The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

There might be lions

15 January 2021

Southend at home will always mean one thing to Daubney Diary. 30 years ago and living away fom GY, I took my mate Fitzy to his one and only Town game. The journey was without note until a banjaxed train stranded us and the three other passengers at Barnetby. Fitzy was distracted from the question of why there were only five people travelling to GY on a Friday night by the peculiarity of the stationmaster inviting us in for tea in a signal box that seemed to double up as his house. 

The question was soon forgotten or, perhaps looking back now, answered by the radio on the replacement bus informing us that circus lions were on the loose and mauling people in the town centre. Needless to say, Fitzy has been dining out ever since on that story and the fascination he had the following day with the moustaches of Steve Sherwood and Gary Childs. Town saw off Southend that day, a big Blundell Park crowd tensing its way to a 1-0 win. Tomorrow we swap 1991's top of the table for the bottom of the league. By crikey we could do with a gritty 1-0 tomorrow. We'd even take our chances with lions if it meant getting to BP to watch a game. Maybe that's the answer to Covid and keeping people indoors: wild man-eating animals in the town centre. Anything is possible in this day and age.

Except new signings it would seem. The only change this week at time of print are James Tilley's departure, with no incomings despite Paul Hurst's best efforts this week to fill the Twitter feeds. Luke Waterfall got tired of waiting for news so he announced some of his own to the radio. Apparently he signed a one-year contract extension while Ian Holloway was still in the building. Some responses to this news on Twitter made it sound like one of those shady US presidential pardons that get signed on the final day in office but we could do a lot worse than Waterfall. He's a solid player and it's unfair to judge him otherwise based on the misfortune of being in an overworked defence. Plus he obviously likes being at GTFC; that's a rarity in itself if Hursty's transfer travails are an indicator.

Despite not making any signings, Hurst may have more cards available tomorrow with Jim 'Big Jim' Hanson and Sean 'No Nickname As Of Yet' Scannell both close to a return. We could do with them. Southend may be bottom but they bear little resemblance to the shell of a side that started the season. They hover near the top of the form table, with four wins and a draw from their last six. We're bottom of that table with one win and you probably don't need telling that we'll be bottom of the actual table if we get scuttled tomorrow. 

What a mess we're in. We're absolutely blessed that somebody can see the potential beyond it. Shutes, Stockwood and Pettit either have genuine love for the club or are mad. Maybe both. You know that look of pity and mocking scorn you get when you tell a Premier League fan that you support Town? That's the expression that greeted Tom Shutes when he told his accountant he was buying GTFC.

This isn't a business transaction in the normal sense. It's the payment of a ransom demand. John Fenty is a lucky man. He's getting £2.5 million for a club, that due to his own decisions, is worth tuppence ha'penny. If Fenty had kidnapped Shergar he'd be looking for the Aga Khan to pay full whack for a hind hoof. Sorry, it's wrong to joke that our soon to be ex-non-chairman would partake in criminality for financial gain, he just goes into business with those who do. Speaking of our old mate Alex Manynames, did you know that he also set up a business in the past few years with this Liverpudlian. If, as rumoured, Fenty is seeing out lockdown in Liverpool, he should be very careful not to do any business networking. 

On a balance sheet we look worthless, a deal that resembles the Simpsons episode where the Germans buy a powerplant they soon realise is a crumbling moneypit staffed by buffoons. We've a training ground built on a concrete airstrip that brings the guarantee of either mud or bone shuddering firmness and little in between. Blundell Park with its infamous bogs and furlough-furrowed pitch. Its amputated floodlights with burger vans in the corners and Fosters on draught. Sited in a town where on April Fools, you're not quite sure whether the most ridiculous stories in the local rag are real or not.

Grimsby Town, 91st in the league, a name that's rarely been a la mode but is now in danger of slipping into the Unfashionable Northern Outliers category. Darlington, Southport, Barrow and Gateshead. Are they League or non-League and who cares anyway? We might be in the category already. 30-somethings have double Wembley, the 40s have Kerr, and the 50s Lawrie Mac. To anyone under the age of 30 we're the team whose player of the season thought Hartlepool was an upward career move. Twice.

Hey Daubney, that's enough, didn't you mention potential a few paragraphs back? Well, yes. There's more than one way to measure value. John Fenty's ego does its PR on the bank statement. Decent folk know that money should never be the only measure, though. I'm not suggesting the new guys don't like having a few bob. They hopefully see beyond it though and I don't think they would be paying over the odds otherwise.  

They're becoming part of a soul, a spirit, that once it gets moving, is difficult to stop. Like accents, that spirit differs from place to place and is tempered over time, not by the triumphs but by the hardships. Ours can find a way to prosper when we hit an all-time low, in an environment where fans seemed to be regarded as an inconvenience. The success of something like Operation Promotion wasn't about contributing your money or the signed pair of Jack Mackreth socks that you got for it. It was about being a part of something bigger and the feeling of unity. The 12th man may be a well-worn cliche but it was never more apt. Right now, we're being tested on and off the pitch and, of course, beyond football. That test will end and we're going to better for it. Anyone who lived through Mick Lyons and made it to Alan Buckley will tell you that. Let's hope the good times start tomorrow. If they don't, it's inevitable that they soon will. UTM.