The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Machine that goes ping

17 May 2018

If every football club was owned by a rich person, four clubs would still have to finish bottom of their respective leagues. We're getting to the stage now where so many clubs are owned by wealthy benefactors that none can realistically promise to deliver on their plans to get to where they hope to be. This is mainly because their hopes and expectations are far and above what's realistic – and also because many fail to realise just how many other football clubs already have pockets deeper than Chapman's Pond.

Since the two are inextricably linked, it's perhaps no surprise that football seems to come down to league positions and money. Don't get your West Yorkshire Diary wrong; I'd love for Grimsby Town to be the best we can possibly be, and play at the highest level. But there are some things I wouldn't like to sacrifice while we work our way up – like our identity and our dignity. If we were to realise our dream, which for many is to play once again in the second division, I'd like us to do it with a bit of class. Not through chucking a load of money at it to make up for our lack of planning, strategy and understanding of how a modern football club needs to be run.

Changing subject now, and it's a big well done to the Grimsby Ancient Mariners who have qualified for this year's Walking Football Cup finals at St George's Park. Any team that represents Grimsby and enjoys success is a something we can all be proud of because, you know, we're all Town aren't we?

The topic of support leads us smoothly into this next bit because the official website (which is both new and superb, as always) has broken the mould and done some off-field PR for a change. It's bigged up the fans for our terrific support this season and quantified our aceness in the context of attendance figures from other clubs across the divisions. And I'd completely believe in the sincerity of the piece if it weren't for the simple fact that our majority shareholder has continually made us fans feel marginalised, redundant and pretty much insignificant through a series of gaffes and blunders since 2001. We've offered the team great support this season but remember – Operation Promotion didn't help to buy Omar Bogle because it was absorbed by previous debts racked up by you know who.

Since James McKeown hasn't signed his new contract with us yet, and Michael Jolley hasn't announced who his assistant will be, there's little point committing any more words to the Mariners in today's diary (although if you really want to read some padded out articles that ask plenty of questions but put none of them to the club, you can always swing by the Grimsby Telegraph's website. They seem to be doing a good job of it lately).

Meanwhile, my attention turns to the play-offs. As most Town fans will know, we've been involved in six play-off campaigns and have enjoyed two promotions through them. If you're willing to adopt a thoroughly unscientific approach and broadly accept that, all things being equal, you only have a 25 per cent chance of winning a play-off campaign, we're doing alright with a 33.3 per cent win ratio.

However, having also witnessed three relegations, some of those play-off defeats have felt more like those days when we've dropped down divisions. In fact, it's often made me think that the disappointment of finishing just outside the play-offs in the regular season would've been less painful than losing to Newport, Gateshead and Bristol Rovers.

And so it must have been tough for the Scunny fans last night when they watched their side lose in the play-off semi-finals for the second consecutive season. Having done that in non-League to Newport and Gateshead, I think we all know how the Iron will be feeling this morning. Just imagine if they went all the way to the play-off final next season, only to lose it in a shoot-out…

However, sympathy only extends so far for a club that had the audacity to sack a manager who got them into the play-offs last season and who had them in contention for the play-offs this season.

But if my sympathy doesn't stretch very far for Scunny, it doesn't get off the ground for Rotherham – a club that was docked 37 points across three seasons for going into administration twice, and then fined again in 2014-15 for fielding an ineligible player. Now there's a club that has thrown money at something – money they didn't even have – in the hope of playing at a higher level. There's a club that lacked class and dignity – and I haven't even got to the bit where they appointed Steve Evans as manager. It's one thing to fall into administration but another to fall into it again.

Personally speaking, I don't think the punishment for the Millers being financially irresponsible on two separate occasions was anywhere enough – especially as there were many other clubs at the time cutting their cloth accordingly, playing by the rules and taking a hit on their league position as a result. Meanwhile Rotherham continue to prosper, so that's why I'll be supporting the Shrews in the play-off final next weekend. A victory for Paul Hurst's team will be a victory for class and dignity, and for achieving success in an honest and hard-working fashion. Up the Salop and UTM!