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Saturday 30 August
An injury-time winner at Ashton Gate for Bristol City's Christian Roberts summons the spectre of the nightmare sequence of late defensive lapses that cost Town so many points last season. After absorbing heavy pressure from the home side, the Mariners are within minutes of a first clean sheet since the Easter Saturday stalemate at Hillsborough when Roberts latches on to a Tony Butler through ball and fires low past Aidan Davison from the edge of the box. Results elsewhere see GTFC drop two places to the unfamiliar mid-table territory of tenth place, though Town's total of seven points is only five shy of top spot.
Friday 29 August
Town's first shattering injury news of the season - because it came out ages ago that Pouton would be out for three months - is that Iain Anderson could miss the next two months with a torn cartilage. I'm not going to do the medical research just yet because there's absolutely loads to write for today's Diary, and besides, I'm eating. The Mariners' super summer signing from Preston missed Monday's win against Wycombe with an injury picked up in the preceding win against Luton but only now has the seriousness of the problem emerged; and the Diary feels partially culpable after meeting some mates last night who I hadn't seen for a while and telling them how ace he is - the fact that Anderson's crocking occurred several days earlier being neither here nor there. So sorry about that.
Joining Iain for a nice cup of tea and a sit down in the treatment room will be Mr Darren Mansaram, who "felt something go", says Paul Groves, while playing for the reserves against York on Wednesday. The precise nature of Flash's injury will remain a mystery until the player undergoes a scan, with his manager explaining in unnecessarily graphic detail to BBC Humber that he may have "ripped something off the bone," with Town's official site preferring to stutter that "the problem seems to be a problem with the young striker's groin." Either way, it's not exactly helping my ham and cheese sandwich go down.
So with Mansaram mangled, Carchedi concussed, Soames sidelined, Phil Jevons unaffordable and large question marks hanging eight feet over Laurens Ten Heuvel's future and spray-painted electric blue, Jonny Rowan is set to retain his place up front for tomorrow's visit to Bristol City. As widely reported, John McDermott is expected to return at right-back with Jason Crowe moving in front of him; and with Des Hamilton suspended Groves himself may continue in central midfield with Stuart Campbell remaining on the left. Aaron Brown could be back in the home side's midfield but may be lacking in match fitness after a whopping seven-match suspension that makes Pouton's punishments look like a playful tickle to the toes.
As part of the Diary's regular build-up to away games, I phoned Ashton Gate just now to make sure you can pay on the gate. The recorded message thingy gives you another number for the ticket office: an 0870 one, so for all I know my call may have ended up costing more than a ticket. "Thank you for holding," says the woman's voice on the hold message. Your current position is." At this point a man's voice cuts in and says: "One," though I was uncertain whether this is another recording or whether they employ somebody specially. Anyway, you can pay on the gate, remarkably - tickets cost 15 octopi - and the Bristolians have buggered up our fun survey a treat because they all drink coffee. Squid. Quid. Sorry, I'm listening to Atari Teenage Riot.
There's also a half-decent bit about Town on Bristol City's official site, in which a bloke from Radio Bristol feels pity for us because we always get patronised - yeah, I know - but the piece at least goes out of its way to point out that Grimsby is not in Yorkshire.
Over to Markie's Refwatch, then, and Mr Stilton reveals that tomorrow's umpire will be Paul Armstrong of Thatchem, Berkshire, overseeing only his second match this season. Last year he issued 103 yellow and 8 red cards in 34 games. "The last time he refereed a Town match," adds Mark, "was in 2001 in the away match at Coventry. In this match he didn't give a single card to either team. This is the match that led to Strachan getting sacked, I'm sure you remember." I was so proud. "Mr Armstrong seems a fair man," continues our scrutineer, quoting Tony Butcher's report: "Really good. No complaints. Didn't book anyone in a tough but fair game. Didn't fall for a fall by O'Neill in the Town box, waving play on dismissively. Have to give him 9 out of 10." Good stuff!
An overwhelming three emails in today's inbox, and that's not counting the ones with that funny virus thing. The first is from Flipper, who has a further suggestion for a trendy alternative venue for Town reserve games - namely "the Nunsthorpe Recreation Ground down Sutcliffe Ave. The Bradley Pitches are a reasonable consideration but The Rec is served with better local transport link and superior local amenities. The local community would also be welcoming to anyone willing to park thier car and leave it unattended or anyone who would wish to purchase hard or soft drugs." He plays for Wednesday now, though, Flip. "With all the uncertainty over Town's fictional new ground," continues our correspondent, "The Rec could one day be the home to a new Grimsby stadium within the welcoming hearts of The Nunny, as it's not as if anyone on the estate has to ask council permission to do anything." Well, it's worth thinking about; managers often emphasise the importance of the opposition encountering an intimidating atmosphere.
"I'm pretty sure Frank Clark lives in Keyworth," says Sam Metcalf, "a Caistor-sized village near Notts. I once held the door open for him in Forbuoys newsagents there...I haven't washed that copy of the News of the World since." Ah, but has Amelia Fletcher been in your sitting room, Sam?
Finally, John Arrand writes on the subject of Radio Five Live's new signing, Spoony. "I didn't hear him the other night but I have heard
him before," says John. "He's just an irrelevant Liverpool fan isn't he? - even more irrelevant since he probably only supports them because they were good in the Eighties." Me and Mrs Diary just thought he seemed a bit distracted, is all - like a man forced during the birth of his first child to watch an endlessly looped video of Sex And The City.
Thursday 28 August
Stuart Campbell will have to tear that crazy ring of cloth from his arm this Saturday and give it to the nearly recovered John McDermott, as Town's legendary club captain is set to return to the first team following his safe and sound appearance for the reserves against York yesterday. La Macca will return at right-back, speculates BBC Humber, with Jason Crowe reverting to the right midfield berth in place of the banned Marcel Cas. "Macca's really getting to the point where he needs to move to that next level to get that little bit more sharpness and that little bit more fitness from the first team games," says Paulie G. The player has missed Town's first five games of the campaign - and most of pre-season - with sciatica, which the Diary now knows is so painful as to be the sort of thing you wouldn't wish on Brian Laws. More power to your nervous system, Macca.
The reserves, by the by, ran out 3-0 winners, with Chris "Not Adam" Bolder opening the scoring and Liam Nimmo and Mark Newton adding the foam stuffing to a big comfortable armchair of a victory. The general sense of ease, well-being and cuddles was not shared, however, by young Giovanni Carchedi, who was hospitalised after being knocked out by a head shot; but Town's official site reports that the 19-year-old midfielder has now "recovered consciousness and is doing okay", dispelling fears of a Steve Livingstone-type horror scenario.
Staying for a moment with the second string - and why not - yesterday's Diary observed upon the modern tendency for clubs to stage reserve games at alternative 'lesser' venues, and two readers have emailed their suggestions for settings in which Town's lot could get hip and trendy by doing likewise. "Why, Glandford Park, of course!" offers Si Wilson, no doubt hoping to offend his Scunny-supporting brother-in-law, as much with the spelling as the suggestion. A Mr Peter Elham, meanwhile, says: "Town's reserves should play their fixtures in People's Park, the site of the Mariners' original ground. Well, sort of - the Abbey Park ground was half there, and half in what is now Farebrother Street, so I guess they could have one set of jumper-goalposts in the park, and another outside the Spar shop on Farebrother." People's Park was once mentioned on The Archers, as well, you know. One farmer's wife or other said it sounded like something from communist China. And as my mum used to say, if you can't think of a witty comment to make, then don't say anything; so I won't.
Mr Wilson is also moved to compose mail by the Diary's recollection of Paul Crichton chucking the ball into his own net at Watford, as an expression of disgust at Laws' management style. "Didn't the goalie with the wayward goal kick throw the ball into the back of the net in that mighty 5-3 early-season tussle with Forest a fair few years ago?" No, sir: in that match he readied to propel a Paul Futcher backpass into the stratosphere with one of his trademark mighty flykicks, only to miss the ball completely and blacken the record of Sir Futch with an own goal. "And talking of Forest then," adds Si, "where is then-manager Frank Clark these days? And does he still have a moustache?" Dunno, mate, but there's a bloke works down our chip shop swears he's Dave Booth.
And finally, did anyone hear that "Spoony" character on Radio Five Live last night? If so, what did you think?
Wednesday 27 August
Gnnnnn rrrrr gnrrrr rrrrr gnn. Rrrrr! Gnrrr rrrrrn rrrr...right, OK. I can see that the Diary's tag team of audio-typing monkeys is going to struggle today, with me still recovering from yesterday's trip to the dentist, so it looks like I'm going to have to type this up myself. Which I was hoping to avoid, having recently incurred a repetitive strain injury from the words Boulding, goal, and unchanged line-up. Ow!
The mystery surrounding the contractual status of Laurens Ten Heuvel deepens with an intriguing bit of gossip that reaches the Diary from South Yorkshire way. After failing to sign the Dutch forward on a permanent basis in time for the season's opening fixture, you will recall, Paul Groves hastily agreed a three-day loan with Sheffield United to allow LTH to appear at Plymouth, with the player expected to pen a year-long 'permanent' deal early the following week. This has still not happened, of course - but Mark Stilton now understands from the editor of the Blades' official site that as soon as Ten Heuvel's three-day loan expired, so did his registration at Bramall Lane. "They were told officially through proper club channels that he had left," explains Mark, "but bizarrely were told not to put it on the website." All of which suggests that the player could be left without a club should Town decide not to keep him after all - which now appears distinctly possible after some disappointing performances culminated in LTH's omission from the team that faced Wycombe on Monday.
John McDermott's hopes of replacing the suspended Marcel Cas for this Saturday's visit to Bristol City rest on his coming through this afternoon's reserves game in one piece. Town's second XI are to take on York's at Blundell Park, and by the time you read this may already be doing so, or indeed have done so. Speaking of the stiffs, the Diary notes the current tendency of 'smaller' clubs like Lincoln to follow the lead of their wealthier counterparts in saving their pitch by staging reserve games at other local venues. Liverpool play theirs at Southport or somewhere, and the Imps, as we saw last week, have this season commandeered the use of Lincoln United's Ashby Avenue ground - so where should the Mariners' second string play their games to follow the fashion? Answers on a virtual postcard please, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did I say "the suspended Marcel Cas"? Yes, I did. The former Notts County man will definitely sit out the south-westerly sojourn after Town's appeal against the red card he was given in the League Cup defeat at Donny foundered on the cruel rocks of circumstance - or was rejected by that rubbish Hull referee, depending on your view of the cosmos. Wherever you stand on that particular hot potato, it is instructive that the FA refereeing assessor assigned to the match is much of Groves' opinion on the issue. "We've spoken to the assessor," says the Town boss in today's Grimbo Tel, "and he's agreed that it's debatable whether Marcel should have got a yellow card or nothing." It don't mean shit though, as the final decision rests with the goatophile in the black, and he's made it.
In the wake of Town's satisfying win on Monday one Diary reader appears to have been celebrating with a marathon session watching Beavis & Butthead and South Park. "I've been reading match reports and wondering about Wycombe's goalie, Frank Talia. Do you happen to know if his wife is unfortunately called Jenny?" Very amusing. And who are you? "Many thanks, Michael Hunt." Yes.
Finally, people, don't let your memories of Paul Crichton deliberately throwing the ball into his own net at Vicarage Road harden your heart to the plight of former Grimsby boss Brian Laws. Now managing third division Scunthorpe, the short-tempered poultry flinger could be facing a struggle to keep his job after the Iron's 5-0 pasting at Mansfield last night. "One word that comes into mind is 'humiliation'," says Bri. "That's the very word I used too," grins Cod Almighty's Tony Butcher. "I'm glad he agrees with me. I wonder if he shares my view of the events at Blundell Park between December 1994 and Christmas 1996?"
Tuesday 26 August
Hey there Diary readers, it's me again - Miles. I have had to step into the Diary's shoes at short notice, cos he's just had to go to the dentist. Though what the dentist is going to think when he turns up without his shoes on I don't know. But anyway, Diary won't be able to do his inimitable daily thang after his trip to the tooth sadist, cos it'd be all incomprehensible, dribbly, and high on nitrous oxide.
Mind you, who doesn't have that laughing gas feeling at the moment? Paul Groves does, for sure. "Great return of points for us, excellent weekend," he giggles through a rictus grin, his leg jiffling up and down like crazy. Praise was due for virtually each and every Town player, but Groves goes on to say that the people he was most pleased for were the home supporters: "It's been a long, long time since they've been able to witness something like that." No doubt he's hoping that such performances will tempt more local folk through Blundell Park's turnstiles to boost the attendance figures, which could, let's face it, be better.
Jonny Rowan put in a cracking performance yesterday, and is full of beans and spunk about keeping his place in the team for Saturday's trip to Brizzle Zity. Young JR was so impressive, it seems, that doubts are being cast regarding the Mariners future of Larry 10 - still without a permanent contract, of course, and so far a tad disappointing. But I hasten to add that this all seems a bit like hopping over the firearm to me.
Elsewhere around the country, you might have noticed goals for Danny Butterfield and Paul Robinson popping up on the vidiprinter of your choice, for Palace and 'Pool respectively. And of Steve Chettle's first Burton Albion goal, Alistair Wilkinson writes: "Nice to hear of a goal for Chetts, I really think we were unlucky with him, he was a great player and could have been so for us," he writes, full of nostalgia, before adding metaphorically: "Apart from all that lack of fitness and being the jam to the wasps of injury anyway. No he could honestly." Poor Al - he's been writing so much poetry recently that he's losing the power of normal speech.
That's it for Mond... oh hang on, it's Tuesday, isn't it. Bank holidays always get me like that. Mr Diary wil be back tomorrow, looking like Goldie (the rapper, not the Blue Peter dog), and drooling tea from the corner of his mouth in an amusing fashion.
Monday 25 August
Paul Groves' first selection changes of the season do nothing to impede Town's clean sweep of six points from the bank holiday weekend, as a late strike from Marcel Cas provides the icing for the cake prepared earlier by Darren Barnard's first-half free kick and Michael Boulding's fourth goal of the season on 51 minutes. Wycombe's Charlie Mapes manages an injury-time reply to make it 3-1 - precisely the outcome the Diary was on the verge of backing earlier in the day at 14/1 when my web connection went really slow. Arse. Groves himself replaces the injured Iain Anderson, with Stuart Campbell moving out to the left wing; while Jonny Rowan's useful sub display at Luton on Saturday earns him a first start for 12 months at the expense of Laurens Ten Heuvel. Watched by one of the lowest crowds in Division Two this afternoon, the Mariners ascend to eighth place in the table.
Gratifyingly for Cod Almighty - official sponsor, I believe, of Disco Des Hamilton - the Diary understands that Radio Humberside's John Tondeur has this afternoon referred to Town's midfield funk machine by precisely that nomenclature, and then immediately expressed his uncertainty as to its origins. Just watch for him on the dancefloor, Tonders.
And Burton Albion have lost 3-2 at home to Barnet, but Town, Barnsley and Nottingham Forest fans join in glorious song to rejoice at a goal for Nigel Clough's side from Mr Steve Chettle. Wahey!
Sunday 24 August
First of all, heartfelt apologies for the absence of a Saturday Diary this weekend: what with events at Kenilworth Road proceeding well beyond five o'clock, it was time to go straight out again by the time I got home. But anyway: wahey, we kept 11 players on the pitch, Anderson and Boulding have now got three each, and Town won; and the Diary for one felt it was nice to do to Luton what always seems to be done to Town - namely going one up and absorbing a lot of pressure while hardly giving them a sniff of an actual chance, surviving a few valid-looking penalty appeals and finally nicking off with the points. The penno actually given, by the by, was well dodgy, so I don't think the Lutonites can complain too much. And polite clapping, please, for a much improved showing from Mr Jason Crowe. Lovely. Tomorrow's bank holiday Diary will appear at teatime, by the way, after the Wycombe match.
Town's first win of the season is likely to be followed by the first changes to the team, Crowe being one of several injury concerns ahead of tomorrow's game as the squad emerged battered and deep-fried from Bedfordshire last night. "Jason Crowe's turned his knee," explains Paul Groves, "Marcel Cas has got a kick on the knee, Anderson's got a kick on the knee, Craney's got a sore back, Simon's got a cut above his eye - they are the ones I know about. There's quite a few that are carrying knocks at the moment." Town fans looking for more reasons to worry will note the Chairboys' loan acquisition of Iffy Onuora, who after what seems like 30 years of scoring against the Mariners was one of the strikers linked with a summer move to Blundell Park. The player debuted against Chesterfield yesterday, heading down to set up Wycombe's second goal in a 3-3 draw.
After the series of controversial sendings-off that have marred some of Town's early-season outings, the Diary's little match previews will now be including a new feature, Markie's Refwatch, in which Cod Almighty's Mark Stilton examines the recent record of the official who will take charge of the Mariners' next game, forecasting mayhem and certain doom if necessary. Who's the bastard in the black tomorrow, then, Mark? "A Mr Colin Webster of Shotley Bridge (County Durham). Scunthorpe fans may remember him as the referee who sent off three players in two minutes in their recent League Cup encounter against Oldham." Surely he can't be all bad then? "Last season he issued 109 yellow and seven red cards in just 36 matches. This included sending off Simon Ford in the 3-3 home draw against Preston." Ah. And what did Tony Butcher's report make of him? "Generally seemed to have little comprehension of the dynamics of football. Never really grasped what was going off out there. A dangerous referee to have in a game involving physical teams and/or physical supporters." So how will this affect tomorrow's game, Mark? "Oh God. We're screwed."
Where can the Grimbarian turn for solace in the face of such disheartening news? Why, to the nearest source of schadenfreude, of course, who right now happens to be a certain right-sided midfielder who walked out on the Mariners not so very long ago to join a club with top-flight ideas. It didn't quite work out that way for Barnsley, of course; and now that the big weekly wodge of wonga that may also have played some part in luring him to Oakwell no longer befits his club's straitened circumstances, Kevin Donovan will have to find another side with "Premiership ambitions" if he wants to keep the dream alive. "He is now in the situation where it is in his best interests and that of the club if he moves on and we are trying to find a club for him," whispers Tykes boss Gudjon Thordarson. "Kevin's salary is quite high compared to the players I would bring in as well so it would be good for the club to find a solution." Two parts sulphuric acid to one part mercuric chloride would probably work, Gudjon, but I can't see the PFA being too happy.
Friday 22 August
With no new injury problems ahead of tomorrow's trip to Luton Paul Groves could keep faith with the same starting XI for a fourth consecutive game, and it'd be interesting to know when the last time was that Town managed that. Luton are missing crocked trio Steve Robinson, Lee Mansell and Russell Perrett, though Matthew Spring is set to return in midfield. Town's ragged defence will be crossing its fingers on the progress of talks between QPR and the Hatters' prolific striker Tony Thorpe, for whom a transfer fee has already been agreed. The businesslike Kenilworth Road ticket office informs the Diary that you can pay on the gate, 15 of your English pounds being the sum required; and that on this side of Bedfordshire they put the tea in first, thank you very much.
Jason Crowe has the fans to thank for his two-year contract at Blundell Park, according to the Grimsby Telegraph. North East Lincolnshire's leading local newspaper reveals that the signing of the former Portsmouth wing-back was only made possible by Town supporters' recent rush to buy newly available shares in the club. "We're very, very pleased and we have to say a huge thank you to the fans who have contributed," says Chairman Furneaux. "Jason Crowe was the player who wasn't in the budget and we've now got 26 players - he is the extra man we hadn't planned for." Which is all very well, but if he doesn't learn to tackle soon then the Diary will be demanding a refund.
The Diary, perhaps naively, used to think you could rely on the BBC for certain standards of accuracy and moral rectitude, and delighted though I am to see the corporation causing trouble for the war criminals who run our country, the BBC Humber Sport website is still struggling to match these laudable standards. An interview with Michael Boulding on the pages of the local news site finds Town's leading scorer observing upon the scarcity of good passing sides in Division Two, only to have his utterances written up by a moonlighting Coco the Chimp. To wit: "I think we if we're going to be successful in this division." Call me pedantic, but that only passes as a sentence if your name is John Prescott.
Remaining for the moment with matters grammatical, the Mariners' official site today offers a salutory lesson on the importance of word order, announcing: "The Grimsby Town Ticket Office will be open for the sale of tickets for the Wycombe game on Saturday." See? Those wishing to buy tickets on Saturday for the Wycombe game on Monday are advised that the office will be open from 9am until noon.
Did I hear you call Manchester United the McDonalds of football? Coaches from the tedious global megabrand are to descend on the Grimsby area next week, reports the Telegraph, ostensibly to show young players at a Hereford School training session how "to dominate the one-versus-one situation in every area of the pitch". The keen eye of the Diary notes, however, that participants will receive a "certificate of attendance, exclusive skills poster and a Manchester United bootbag" and entry into a free draw for tickets to see the Scum at Old Trafford. Some children in the training sessions, remember, will be as young as six. So with Parliament already having outlawed the 'grooming' of youngsters by internet perverts, is it not time for similar legislation to protect our children from this sort of sick brainwashing?
With the bank holiday upon us, and yet more sunshine, today's Diary ends with a visit to VisitBritain.com, a website giving information to prospective, er, visitors to Britain. And what do we find there that could possibly be of interest to readers of Cod Almighty? Well, in the light of Pete Green's sterling efforts on this site to assert the correct geography of our hometown, you may be alarmed to discover the claim that "Yorkshire boasts the beautiful and intriguing historic cities of York and Beverley, the ‘floral town’ of Harrogate, traditional seaside resorts at Scarborough, Whitby, Filey, Bridlington and Cleethorpes..." All right-thinking Diary readers are urged to hit VisitBritain's feedback page and gently correct the authors of this untruth.
Thursday 21 August
Remember last season's greatest story ever told? The tale of one man's gruelling struggle against social injustice, official indifference and a cruelly uncaring world to be credited with a deflected goal at Selhurst Park? Stuart Campbell (certificate PG - may contain scenes of mild disgruntlement) is set for a sequel this season after the erratic but approachable Hull referee who oversaw Town's League Cup defeat at Doncaster last week recorded the Mariners' opener as an own goal. Convinced that the goal was his, Campbell is to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by appealing to the FA end them; and his employer's official website is asking fans to help by sharing their impartial observations on its new messageboard. "Was you at the game?" asks the site, in its best hip Grimsby dialect.
John McDermott, who most of us have forgotten almost moved to Hull in the summer, came through 85 minutes of the reserves' first game of the season at Lincoln yesterday afternoon. Town's second string came back up the A46 with a Pontins League point under their belts after a Chris Bolder strike cancelled out the Imps' first-half lead; and Macca has his eye on the Bristol City game a week on Saturday for a return to first-team duty.
One of the less memorable of Grimsby's string of transient folk heroes, David Nielsen, is on his way back home to Denmark. The self-proclaimed "Golden Dude" - who flattered Town fans to deceive them with some fleeting glimpses of brilliance in a 2000-01 loan spell before demanding too much money and storming off in a huff - has left Norwich on a free transfer because his wife was offered a top job in computing. In an email to the Diary Miles Moss points out that Mrs Nielsen's new employers must have insisted on an immediate start, since the player appears to have jumped at the first Danish club in the phone book by signing for Aalborg BK.
"No embarrassing moments," says another email, "as last season Town played Lincoln reserves at Sincil Bank. I was there, and told you about the game too (including Diary scoop sensation world exclusive exclusive thing - Greg Young to play at Reading)." This is Tony Butcher, only compounding the embarrassment the Diary felt yesterday about where Lincoln reserves play. Tony didn't make it to Lincoln United's Ashby Avenue ground to see the latest chapter in the story of Macca, "even though my car was being serviced round the corner. I just couldn't, OK? Walking down the Skellingthorpe Road to see the Rodger's aces was a one step beyond." Is that clear, everyone?
And lastly, emails from Al Wilkinson and Si Wilson confirm that yesterday's Diary was utter rubbish by pointing out that Clyde Wijnhard joined a club abroad some weeks ago, thereby fatally scuppering Paul Groves' chances of luring him to Blundell Park. "I'd suggest your imagination is overactive, and wishfully thinking," sniffs Mr Wilson. "I'd heard that Wijnhard had signed for a Portugese club several weeks ago." Well, thanks for letting me know, Si, and while you're reading, do I have to turn up to your daughter's christening on the day, or will several weeks later be OK...?
Wednesday 20 August
There's no stopping 34-year-old comeback kid John McDermott, who makes a second reserves appearance in three days at Lincoln this afternoon as he chases match fitness following a lay-off with sciatica. The Diary has discovered since yesterday, courtesy of www.sciatica.org, that sciatica is the name given to "pain, weakness, numbness, and other discomfort along the path of the sciatic nerve", and from Aliveat55.com that "pain often radiates down the buttock or leg. It can range from a tingling, burning, pins-and-needles feeling to excruciating, shooting pain that makes standing up nearly impossible." My eyes are watering just thinking about it. The match kicks off at 2pm, and updates can be had from Town's official site, which also points out that the Imps' reserves play home games at Lincoln United's Ashby Avenue ground, thus embarrassing the Diary, which I am sure referred on occasion last season to Town's second string travelling to Sincil Bank. Paul says Le Big Mac won't be up to facing Luton this Saturday, though; and let's face it, it's a brave man who can face Luton at the best of times.
Welsh international Darren Barnard - possibly Town's best player so far this season - is like a kid on Christmas Eve as the principality prepares to take on Serbia & Montenegro tonight. By claiming a point in Belgrade tonight Wales would guarantee at least a play-off place in the race for Euro 2004 qualification, because they've suddenly become quite good since Mark Hughes started managing them; and the Mariners left-back is crossing his trembling fingers. "If we don't get beat we're down to the play-offs," he tells the Grimsby Telegraph, "and we'll only need one win from the last three games. Fingers crossed, we could go to Italy and get a result." The Diary would like to wish Wales all the best but is a bit reluctant to in case Wales thinks I'm being a patronising English bastard or something. I'm not quite sure how it all works really.
Oh, and destitute Oldham have finally gone into administration. Does the Diary have an over-active imagination, or could Mr Groves be holding off on a permanent contract for Laurens Five-O in the hope that the Latics may be unable to sort out a new deal with Clyde Wijnhard?
Tuesday 19 August
In the light of recent events, GTFC could be forgiven for putting off another trip to Belle Vue in favour of washing the kitchen floor or defrosting the freezer, but the club decided yesterday to tweak the nose of terror and bring John McDermott back into action in a reserve friendly back down the road at Donny. The Diary-synonym-exhausting defender missed most of pre-season with sciatica, and I really must start finding out what these horrible-sounding conditions actually are when I write about them. Town's second XI lost the game 2-1 but Macca came through unscathed and is targetting a return to first-team action to coincide with Marcel Cas's suspension for the trip to Bristol City on 30 August. Which would be nice, eh. Des 'The Strangler' Hamilton and Iain 'Poleaxe' Anderson will also miss the trip south-west and the two subsequent games.
All of which brings us neatly to the latest news on the Mariners' recent rash of red cards; specifically, that Graham Rodger - the assistant manager who some fans have decided to call Rodgers and dislike for absolutely no reason at all - insists that far from becoming the Butchers of Blundell Park, Town have been perfect little angels so far this season. "We've played three games and had three players sent off, but I haven't seen one bad tackle from any of our players," says 'Grezza' in today's Grimmo Tello. The paper also reveals that the disciplinary hearing Rodger himself faces for getting a bit stroppy at a match back in February has been put off until September, and isn't that just the kind of razor-sharp, cutting-edge organisational prowess that has won the FA the respect and admiration of football fans worldwide.
Now there's no point Grimbarians slagging off their hometown when the national media can do it so much more effectively for us; but it can't be denied that there are still some stupid things going on there that you don't see so much of these days in some of England's more cosmopolitan locations. One is people who say: "I don't like spicy food." Another - as anyone will testify who sat in the Pontoon for the Leicester game last season - is racism, and Cod Almighty's Mark Stilton is writing a piece about it. Mark would like to hear from Town fans who have witnessed racism at Blundell Park, or who would just like to state an opinion about it; so if this means you then please email him at email@example.com. Cheers.
And finally today, let's hear it for Mariners midfield legend Tommy Widdrington, who has succeeded where so many others before him have flagged and failed by earning a contract with Macclesfield.
Monday 18 August
Paul Groves doesn't think Iain Anderson should have been sent off on Saturday! The winger being described by fans as the new Kevin Donovan was dismissed in first-half injury time as Town sought to build on a one-goal lead over Port Vale, match referee Mr P Prosser having deemed Anderson's clumsy aerial challenge on Michael Walsh worthy of an instant red card. But Town's player-manager has sprung to the defence of his summer signing from Preston, telling today's Grimsby Telegraph: "I believe it was a genuine challenge, a genuine challenge to win the ball. If you believe that is a sending off offence, or you believe he shot himself in the foot, then I'd have to disagree." In tomorrow's Diary: "I am a Catholic," admits Pope.
And that's about it today. England have just won the cricket; Mark Dillerstone says LTH's nickname should be Laurens Tin Helmet; and Marnix Kolder wants the Diary to acknowledge goals for former loan donkeys Alan Neilson for Luton and Jason Lee for Falkirk, though what he has against Lee Nogan I do not know. I'm going to leave you with a glorious Lawro moment from Saturday's Football Focus, which just brought it home to me how much I've missed the Premiership. Discussing the way Chelski are now spending money they do have, the BBC's former Liverpool defender and modern camp icon observed that "they've literally been showered with gold dust."
Saturday 16 August
Town's third red card of the week raises the spectre of a Wengeresque discipline problem in Paul Groves' squad as Iain Anderson is dismissed for 'serious foul play' in first-half injury time, shortly after Marcel Cas crossed for Michael Boulding to head the Mariners to a 1-0 advantage over Port Vale. The free-scoring winger was adjudged to have done some kind of grief to Vale's Michael Walsh in challenging for a high ball, but Town fans claim another shambolic piece of refereeing. Groves replaces Laurens Ten Heuvel at half time in an attempt to hold on, and only the timber prevents Stuart Campbell from doubling the Mariners' margin; but the visitors make a double substitution on the hour and capitalise on more poor defending to snatch the lead within eight minutes with goals from Stephen McPhee and Billy Paynter. And that, gentle reader, is the way it stays.
In mitigation, the Hull referee who sent off Cas and Des Hamilton in the midweek League Cup defeat at Doncaster has promised Graham Rodger he will review the incidents concerned and rescind the red if the vid proves him wrong - despite Groves' earlier insistence that the dismissals would not be appealed. In an interview with GTFC's Mariners World service, Carl Boyeson explains: "Graham Rodger and I had a good five- to ten-minute chat about three or four things that happened in that game...He is sending me a video and I will have a look at it." In its account of the story, incidentally, BBC Humber continues its poor run of form by contriving to mis-spell the surname of Town's assistant boss. I mean it's not like he didn't used to play for Hull or anything.
Well, it should have been a great day, with the Diary's first ever appearance in Town's matchday magazine; but I'm afraid that's my weekend ruined. Only pop music can save me now...and loads of beer.
Friday 15 August
Des Hamilton may be a demon on the dancefloor but he is also man enough to have publicly apologised for his dismissal at Doncaster on Tuesday night. So he has - but not to the Donny donkey whose Challinoresque onslaught provoked the groovin' midfield man into retaliatory asphyxiation. "We were really comfortable and we ended up losing," confirms the summer acquisition, who after a 'quiet' beginning to the match had just begun to exhibit the telltale symptoms of dudeness. "That was down to my sending-off and I'm sorry," a contrite Des tells the Grimsby Telegraph. If any headway is to be made this season, though, the GTFC squad will have clearly to adapt to the FA rule changes being piloted in the lower divisions, whereby a team being outclassed by more skilful players is now allowed to break their legs.
As Paul Groves looks to draw a line under the Belle Vue debacle, the Town boss is is set to name an unchanged side for the third match in a row to face Port Vale at Blundell Park tomorrow. Any suspensions to be served by Hamilton and his fellow felon Marcel Cas are yet to begin, which gives John McDermott and Stacy Coldicott a bit longer to get better; while Laurens Ten Heuvel remains up in the air, and his contract hasn't been sorted out either, says the Telegraph, with Groves expecting a permanent deal to be signed in the next few days. "It's important that we get continuity in the side," says our Paul. "There will have to be changes through injury or suspension eventually, but we need continuity, especially with so many new faces." Vale come into the game on the back of a winning start against lovely Bournemouth last week; manager Brian Horton reports one or two minor knocks in the squad but won't say who's carrying them.
Finally, an intriguing tale emerges from the aftermath of the Mariners' League Cup exit. Some Grimbarians who made the journey chose to express their disgruntlement at the performance of the chief adjudicating official by smashing shit up; the real hard core, though, chose instead to write letters to the newspapers. One of their number, following the publication of his address, promptly received a bonkers anonymous phone call positing the thesis that his letter stemmed merely from tartness in his vineyard, adding for good measure that Town were "rubbish". Our unfortunate supporter at first presumed from the Yorkshire accent that this was a Donny gloater - that is, until the utterance of the words "Up the Tigers". The Diary will surely not be alone in wondering whether the mystery caller was in fact leading east Yorkshire referee Mr Carl Boyeson; but he unfortunately rang off before our Town fan could ask him whether he enjoyed getting jiggy with goats.
Thursday 14 August
A joint statement from GTFC and Humberside Police urges the silly boys who travelled to Doncaster on Tuesday to stay away from Blundell Park this Saturday for Town's first home game of the new season against Port Vale. Six people from Grimsby who are disappointed with life were charged with public order offences after disturbances followed Town's League Cup exit the other night; and the authorities are keen to avoid a repeat in Cleethorpes this weekend. Fans with any information that may assist police are asked to betray their dead hard working-class roots and contact Sgt Lee Dixon or PC Alan Rutter at Grimsby nick.
Now that the unpleasantness of Tony Gallimore is behind us forever, and with the early-season form of Darren Barnard and Iain Anderson providing cause for cheer, Town's left flank has displayed an uncharacteristic fortitude in the two games so far; and for once it has been on the right, where Marcel Cas and Jason Crowe are so far yet to settle in, that the side has looked weaker. Reinforcements are arriving, though, in the venerable form of John McDermott, who is back in training after missing the Plymouth and Doncaster games with sciatica. The GTFC legend has returned from treatment with the holy waters of Lilleshall just in time to reclaim the right-back slot from Marcel Cas, who is likely to face a one-match ban for his sending-off at Belle Vue the other night.
Speaking of marvellous John McD, the Diary has discovered another inaccuracy on the licence fee-hungry BBC Humber website. A page of Town statistics and records and things concludes by correctly naming the club's current captain as its record appearance holder but propagates the dangerous lie that Macca's Grimsby career spanned the years 1953 to 1969. Immediately above, the old pub quiz fact that "Grimsby play in Cleethorpes" - which, incidentally, a random Irishman tested me on in the pub the other day - is misphrased thus: "The club is famous for being the only team in England who are not named after the town in which they play." The Diary, as you know, harbours no ill will for the general population of Yorkshire; but the good people of Hull should clearly avoid refereeing and web editing in favour of shagging goats.
Finally, so as to avoid receiving irate emails from the trainspotter tendency among you, I might as well point out that Paul Robinson, the one who used to be on loan with Town, not the Leeds keeper, ha ha, scored his second goal of the season for Hartlepool last night as the east coast's new big boys put their second division counterparts Sheffield Wednesday out of the League Cup on penalties. Sources close to Robinson confirm, however, that the player is "still not as good as Alan Shearer".
Wednesday 13 August
Nine people have been charged by South Yorkshire police after Grimsby's cretin contingent last night let its testosterone go to its little head and decided to prove its red-veined manhood by shouting nasty things at people from somewhere else. Six Town 'fans' and three Rovers supporters have been bailed to appear before Doncaster magistrates on Friday to answer charges of public order offences following the Mariners' 3-2 League Cup defeat in the town last night. The Diary, meanwhile, invites those in the away end who joined in the usual two-song medley of tedious anti-Yorkshire material to consider the effect on the Hull-based referee.
For it is the main match official, Carl Boyeson, rather than the Mariners' defence, who is being blamed for the result by Town fans - not to mention journalists - who saw the game. Marcel Cas was one of about 165 players to receive red cards in last night's fixture programme, for an alleged shirt-tug that the referee presumably deemed to have "denied a clear goalscoring opportunity", despite the earlier clattering of Michael Boulding as he latched onto a rebound from Iain Anderson warranting not so much as a yellow. Less debatable is the earlier dismissal of Des Hamilton, who retaliated to a multiple studs-up assault with a headlock that would have done Giant Haystacks proud. Save it for the Pier, Des.
All of which meant, anyway, that the two-goal lead Town held with 15 minutes remaining, following a Stuart Campbell goal and Iain Anderson penalty, availed nothing as Gregg Blundell unironically snatched Rovers' winner in the fourth minute of injury time (the linesman having missed an offside, according to some observers). "If I generally go to watch a football game, I go to watch two sets of eleven players play football," reflects Paul Groves today, quoted by BBC Humber. "That's really all I've got to say about some of the incidents that went off," adds the GTFC player-boss, adding weight to the case made by leading anthropologists that two new classes of subspecies must be created to reflect the fundamental biological and psychological split between him and Neil Warnock.
Tuesday 12 August
Town's chances of fielding an unchanged line-up for tonight's League Cup tie at Doncaster rest in the gnarled and horny hands of Neil Warnock, as the club continues to deny reports that Laurens Ten Heuvel has been released by Sheffield United and signed a permanent contract at Blundell Park. The player remains on loan, according to GTFC's official site, and permission for his appearance at Belle Vue will have to be sought from the enigmatic Mr Warnock, 'cos of being cup-tied an' all that stuff. If, as seems unlikely, Larry-10 is denied clearance to play, then a more than eager replacement is ready in the estimable form of Darren Mansaram, who is straining at the leash for a chance to face his hometown club. "I'd give me left leg, in fact, to play this one," declares the nippy young striker to BBC Humber. Sounds fine to the Diary, Flash, as long as you don't offer Darren Barnard's instead.
Elsewhere the Beeb's popularity may be at its highest point for decades after the drubbing the corporation has recently dished out to Tony Blair's credibility, but Auntie's appreciation society remains without a North East Lincolnshire branch today as Ceefax provides team news on every League Cup tie except the one that counts. Town fans have also pointed out that last weekend BBC Sport online was still giving the score as Plymouth 2 Grimsby 0 up to an hour after full time.
Anyway, Doncaster are choosing from a full-strength side; Disco Des Hamilton is in the Telegraph saying: "Ooooh, we'll have to watch out for that Leo Fortune-West"; and Paul Groves is warning his team to get the ball on the deck instead of the 'lump it like Lawrence' approach some players regressed to at Home Park.
"I had the pleasure of attending the Leicester v Barcelona game at the
Crisp-O-Dome on Friday night," writes a Diary reader, and it's not Gary Lineker, it's Mark Wilson. "The game had three things worth noting: the weather was balmy, Barcelona pass it around gloriously but with little or no result (makes you wonder how Rijkaard got the job and not Buckley) and Danny Coyne played all the second half. I can't really tell you if he played well or not because the only save he could have theoretically made was when Kluivert got free and crashed it off the bar. No goalkeeper would have got near it (and Danny didn't). Oh, and he came for a cross and didn't get it. No change there then." Cheers Mark. I feel good now. We can only hope Aidan is reading.
Any marketing professionals wishing to profile the demographic of Diary readers will doubtless find it useful to note that they prefer Six Feet Under to Coronation Street, if there is a reliable indicator in the volume of email generated by my mentioning said programmes. Al Wilkinson sets my mind at rest by agreeing that there is a "definite similarity" between Martin Keown and 6FU's Billy Chenowith, "and not just physically. Growing up with a face like that, Martin 'The Rash' Keown must have received enough abuse to develop the mad-as-a-spoon properties inherent in the unstable, but excellent, TV character." Jo Tilley adds: "The Arsenal connection in Six Feet Under doesn't stop there. Am I wrong, or could Claire pass for Ray Parlour in a certain light?" And finally Tony Butcher, as ever, brings it all back home. "To mix up two big Gilbert O'Sullivan hits," he writes, "Brenda looks like Daryl Clare."
Monday 11 August
Have we all cooled off a little? That means you, Mr Jeffers. Happy Monday, everyone, and welcome to another week with the Diary. Fans who travelled to Plymouth for Saturday's season-opener are arriving back in Grimsby as we speak, and the consensus seems to be, though the statistics suggest Town will be the happier of the two sides to emerge with a point, that the early signs were promising as Paul Groves' army of new signings begins to coalesce into something resembling a team. The Argyle manager and players have spent the weekend berating the referee and themselves respectively; while those whose brains comprise black and white matter are mostly relieved to have got off the mark - and with two excellent goals to boot.
One Grimsby man less than satisfied with events at Home Park, though, is Laurens Ten Heuvel, who was replaced by Darren Mansaram after 57 minutes of a quiet debut performance. The stylish frontman will sign a one-year contract with the Mariners today, but was understandably disappointed with an underwhelming display on Saturday. "I didn't really enjoy my debut because I had a poor game," admits the player to today's Grimsby Telegraph, presumably holding his hands up. "I don't know why, I just didn't feel great." Don't worry, LTH - the Diary often feels like that, and look what a spectacular success I've made of my life.
Great news for traditionalists heading for tomorrow night's League Cup clash with Doncaster. The Diary is informed by Rachel from the Belle Vue ticket office - where they answer the phone immediately, or to put it another way, 15 minutes sooner than Plymouth - that it's pay on the turnstiles (which will open at 6:30), with 13 pounds the price for a seat or a nice, round, pocket-friendly tenner to stand. Rachel is thrown slightly off balance by the Diary's enquiry as to whether she puts the water or the milk in first when making the tea ("Who is this?") but recovers quickly to further soften our soft spot for Donny by confirming that she does things properly by leaving the cow juice until last.
Over to the BBC Humber Sport website finally, then - or "BBC - sitename", as it is described in the title bar - and the Diary is encouraged to note the removal of the photograph they captioned with Ten Heuvel's name last week, but which could not possibly have depicted LTH unless it predates treatment for the player under Michael Jackson's plastic surgeon. On an unrelated note, while watching Six Feet Under last night I was briefly unnerved by a sudden resemblance between Billy Chenowith and England defensive legend Martin Keown. Is there any validity whatsoever in this comparison or am I just talking a load of old Warnock?
Saturday 9 August
Mariners, as a breed, are a superstitious lot; and a few may be rubbing their hands after Town today duplicated their first away result of the glorious 1997-98 season with a topsy-turvy 2-2 draw at Plymouth. Michael Boulding, put through by Darren Barnard, opens the scoring on 28 minutes - prompting the Diary to drop a sandwich and charge through the house in loud celebration - only for the home side to level four minutes later from the head of Marino Keith. Soon after the break Graham Coughlan puts Plymouth in front - again with a header; where were you, Tony Crane? - but Iain Anderson claims a point for GTFC with a long-range volley from Barnard's corner. In Anderson, Crane, Jason Crowe, Marcel Cas, Laurens Ten Heuvel and Des Hamilton, Town's starting line-up features more debutants than an Oxbridge freshers' ball; and if you count Aidan Davison as well, that makes seven.
Elsewhere in the league, three former Mariners contribute to what might euphemistically be termed a lively encounter at Brunton Park, where early exchanges of fire see Paul Raven and Lee Nogan find the net for Carlisle and York respectively. On 34 minutes, though, chuckles are heard from Town fans the world over as two red cards follow a flare-up between Minstermen player-boss Chris Brass and none other than Mr Stephen Livingstone himself. Another big lump with a short fuse, Georges Santos, marks his Ipswich debut with some not-quite-accurate long-range volleying from midfield; while it is serial misfit Terry Cooke, inevitably, who crosses for Lloyd Owusu to open the scoring in Sheffield Wednesday's 3-2 win at Swindon.
Ten Heuvel's loan will become a permanent transfer on Monday, reports the Grimsby Telegraph in a story that, given the team's mode of transport to today's game, finally warrants the headline The Flying Dutchman. Hurrah! Paul Groves confirms that the arrival of the Dutchman means "it's all the money gone," so fans can expect no more new faces at Blundell Park until Phil Jevons gets bored and sods off. In their report on the Larry-10 signing, meanwhile, staff at the BBC Humber site raise fresh doubts over their competence by using a photograph of the wrong player. True, the Diary hasn't seen a lot of Ten Heuvel so far, but two pre-season friendlies have been quite adequate to establish the player's caucasian ethnicity...
Friday 8 August
If Laurens Ten Heuvel joins the Town squad at Humberside Airport for tomorrow's match at Plymouth then it will be as a loan player rather than a signed, sealed and delivered Mariner, as the deadline has now passed for the player to be acquired on a 'permanent' contract in time to feature at Home Park. Paul Groves now has until noon tomorrow to agree a loan deal with Sheffield United for the services of the Dutch frontman, but if nothing materialises then Jonny Rowan and Darren Mansaram will be vying for the opportunity to partner Michael Boulding up front.
BBC Humber today returns to the knotty issue of the 'parachute payments' that Town, Brighton and impoverished Sheffield Wednesday should have been due at the end of last season as Division One's lucky losers. GTFC chairman Peter Furneaux is blaming Portsmouth and Leicester for welching on the deal, which ought to have seen the three clubs ascending to the Premiership help out their less fortunate counterparts to the tune of £120,000 each. "It would be very unfortunate for clubs that have voted for this money to be paid now to renege on it," says Pete, doing his best to sound like a gangster running a protection racket. Let's not be hasty, though, Mr F; after all, those poor lambs in the Premier are only getting £1.5bn from their new TV deal.
Back to the south-west, then, and Plymouth manager Paul Sturrock has decided on his starting line-up but is giving nothing away. All the Diary can tell you is that winger Martin Phillips - once predicted by helium-voiced comedian Alan Ball to be England's first £10m footballer - is the only player ruled out of the Pilgrims' XI by injury. Sturrock has also done his homework on the Mariners, speaking warmly of his opponents' excellent pre-season. "We know what system they have been playing and we know some of the personnel," he tells today's Plymouth Evening Herald. "They have got some decent players and if they get a good start they could definitely be a force all year."
Groves, meanwhile, is badly in need of a thesaurus as he looks ahead to the new campaign. "I expect that the expectation will go up, hopefully that's a good thing that the expectation is there," he informs Town's official site. The Diary has very few qualms with the GTFC boss as far as matters on the pitch are concerned, but our Paul is clearly a man who thinks Roget is just a Brentford defender.
In a new Diary series for this season, your columnist has decided to start phoning the other club just before away matches in a bid to bring you the latest ticket information and find out whether they put the milk or the water in first when they make the tea. "Thank you for calling Plymouth Argyle," says the Home Park ticket office. "Your call is in a queue and will be answered shortly, but the wait could be up to 10 minutes." Just as tomorrow never comes, the delay ahead of me was still being reported a quarter of an hour later as "up to 10 minutes". Notably, the Pilgrims eschew the notion of hold music, preferring a Zen-like silence between the repetitions of the message. My meditative trance had just led me to ruminate on whether Argyle had thousands of fans in the queue anxious for a glimpse of Sturrock's new signings or are just too tight to employ more than one telephonist; but before I could decide, my call was taken at last and a pleasant-sounding lass informed me, after checking with a colleague, that we can pay on the gate and it will cost 17 quid. The Diary can also reveal that PAFC put the milk in first - all the more reason to hope Town give them a good stuffing.
With a bit of luck the Diary will revert as of tomorrow to Saturday evening updates for the new season. I hope the silly Sunday ones have kept you entertained all summer long. Up the bleedin' Mariners, and I'll see some of you soon.
Thursday 7 August
Jason Crowe and Mike Edwards will sign for the Mariners today, according to the club's official site, to become the sixth and seventh new faces to join this summer. I think it's sixth and seventh anyway, unless I've forgotten somebody; which wouldn't be hard. In scoring the winning goal against Middlesbrough last Friday Crowe clearly impressed Paul Groves more than he did Tony Butcher and the player is set to make his debut at Plymouth on Saturday as stand-in for the injured John McDermott. The two-year contract wafting under Crowe's nose is precisely double the length of that being flashed at Mr Edwards, expectations of whom are being played down by the OS's speculation that he "could be more of a fringe player"; not that this reputation ever did A Flock Of Seagulls any harm.
But you all want to know about Laurens Ten Heuvel, and quite frankly, so do I. Negotiations with the Sheffield United frontman appear to be at a less advanced stage - more a tadpole to Crowe and Edwards' frog - with Groves telling today's Grimsby Telegraph: "We're talking about the money and we're in the middle of negotiations. I think we'll know a bit more today as to when, or if, it will be wrapped up." Town's official site, meanwhile, reminds us significantly that "the Town boss has until 12 noon on Saturday to sign a loan player". Indeed, a temporary contract for the skilful Dutchman would be better than none at all; but it would leave open, as always, the possibility of Neil Warnock wondering aloud to his scouts whether this Ten Heuvel fella at Grimsby might be worth snapping up quick.
Back at the office, the GTFC accounts people have their fingers crossed that season ticket sales will top £400,000 before the week is out. Sales are 600 down on last season's figure of 2,900, reports the Telegraph; but after the club's relegation a sharper drop had been anticipated by the Blundell Park moneymen. If that isn't a contradiction in terms.
The children and dreamers of North East Lincs will have allowed their foolish hopes to be raised by a transfer request from Andy Todd. A series of excellent performances from the Blackburn centre-half during his loan from Charlton helped the Mariners fight off the drop in the 2001-02 season, and the player has now given up on fighting for a first-team spot at Ewood Park. Whether he has also given up on fighting is unclear. No-one who was in the vicinity of the Molineux stadium on 16 March 2002 will forget Todd's winning goal for Town - which saw the beginning of the end of Wolves' promotion bid and swiftly curtailed the home chants of "Will you watch us on TV?" - but anyone now entertaining the notion that an unrefusable offer would fall within Grimsby spending power must be, to put it bluntly, a right daft bugger.
Finally, Mark Wilson valiantly attempts to keep alive the Grimsby/Kinks thread that has kept us all so richly entertained this week. "Could 'So Tired of Waiting for You' [sic.] have been penned for Clyde Wijnhard?" he asks. Kind of the same gag I did with Clive Platt the other day, but hey, none the worse for that.
Wednesday 6 August
The building of Stonehenge, the ongoing popularity of Robbie Williams, and the synchronised menstruation of women living in the same house: three great mysteries of our world, and a fourth is the precise situation between Town and the club's three recent trialists Laurens Ten Heuvel, Jason Crowe and Mike Edwards. So let us turn to our customary sources of wisdom for enlightenment, and if Morrissey isn't answering his phone then we'll see what the Grimsby Telegraph says.
First up, a certain official website is a little forthcoming regarding Crowe, announcing as it does that Paul Groves is today hoping to persuade the former Portsmouth wing-back to join his wing-back-free team. Town's bench-bound player-boss lets a word or two slip to the Telegraph about Larry 10, meanwhile. "We want him to be there against Plymouth," says Mr Groves. "Sheffield United paid money for him but, with the market as it is, they're prepared to let him go for free." So there you go. As if to prove that he isn't one to be taken in by flash foreign floozies and pretend Premiership pedigrees, Paul would also like to sign Hull reject Edwards and wants all three deals tied up by the weekend. Well, you would.
Following the recent spectacular, headline-grabbing, two grand-raising auction of a place in the GTFC squad, the club has turned to something solid for its latest QXL extravaganza: namely the signed match ball from Town's famous victory over Exeter in May 1972 that sealed the fourth division championship in front of 22,000 ecstatic fans at Blundell Park. Really? The actual ball? Why yes. It's "the very ball that flew into Exeter’s net three times," says the official site - shortly before adding: "We cannot confirm that this is the original match ball, but Mitre have confirmed that the ball is from that time." So does anyone want to make an offer for the Diary's copy of the actual White Album that John Lennon definitely once skinned up on? He might not have done, but it's from that time.
In comes an email with the subject line "Kinky", and because it is from a Manchester City fan I wrongly surmise that it will discuss former Maine Road icon Georgi Kinkladze. "Well done, Diary, for your amusing Town-related Kinks songs today," writes Cath Martin. "Thanks also for pointing out that 'Where Have All The Good Times Gone?' was a Ray Davies song - just two sentences earlier I had smugly said to myself 'I know, I know - it's by Van Halen!' They covered it on their album Diver Down, you see, an album I used to own some years ago. It turns out that Bowie also covered this song on his Pin Ups album. By the way, back on the subject of Kinky Town - let's hope that later this week, Mr Ten Heuvel will be able to sing 'You Really Got Me' to us all." Cheers, Cath, and to switch from The Kinks to The Wedding Present, would you Give My Love To Kevin?
Tuesday 5 August
Hope you enjoyed the guest diarists; three cheers apiece for their sterling work in maintaining this column while I was variously camping in the Peak District, failing at a PowerPoint-presented pub quiz in Sheffield, emptying my mum's freezer and being quizzically glanced at by Paul Groves Himself after Town had beaten Middlesbrough. It was good to bump in to some of you as well, such as Emma C and Al Wilkinson at Boston, and a big shout goes out to Dan Humphrey, whose heroic efforts on the Mariners World laptop at the Boro game proved sadly all in vain. So much healthier do I appear after my brief experience of having a life, in fact, that the slavedrivers of Cod Almighty are considering the introduction of a weekly Guest Diarist Day; so if you're interested in writing a future Diary then please email us using the address on the left.
In the absence of further developments on the Ten Heuvel front, then - and shouldn't we have investigated his 'situation' with Sheffield United before we gave him two trial games, Paul? - today's top story is the Grimsby Telegraph's revelation that there's no way Stacy Coldicott's leg will stop being broken this side of September. The unsung midfield labourer suffered damage to said limb way back in Town's Division One days and had hoped to be back for this weekend's "big kick-off", but Groves explains: "The injury is healing. It's just taking longer than we first anticipated." With Alan Pouton permanently knackered, Stuart Campbell and Des Hamilton could be set to team up in central midfield for Saturday's trip to Plymouth.
The Mariners' new first-choice left-back Darren Barnard has set his sights on Wales' Euro 2004 squad, and let's not be churlish and hope he pulls the trigger on John Oster, eh? The former Barnsley man has been going the right way about things in pre-season, anyway, and his dreams of international glory will not be ceremoniously shattered by his call-up for the Welshies' qualifier against Serbia & Montenegro on Wednesday 20 August. Barn(e)y is joined in the latest squad by the aforementioned Sunderland winger and the footballphobic Mr Daniel Coyne, who, not content with being an unused sub for his country, recently moved to Premiership Leicester to complete his PhD in bench studies.
Coyne's one-time understudy Steve Croudson, meanwhile, will resume his career in professional football at the delightful York Street stadium after being handed a one-year contract by Boston. The Kitten turned out for the Pilgrims as they hosted the friendly against Town the other week and has now been snapped up as cover for their first-choice stopper Paul Bastock. Incidentally, Diary readers who find themselves alienated by the garish, ad-driven facade of most clubs' official sites are strongly encouraged to peruse Boston's modest offering. "Here is the latest news about the club," reads one page. "It is in date order with the latest news at the top." Bless!
In other news, tickets are now on sale for Town's opening home game with Port Vale, which if I were a few years older I would say takes place on Saturday week; fictitious former Mariners trialist Wayne Gill, rejected by Alan Buckley's Rochdale, is now hoping to join Conference Scarborough; and Ceefax predicts a shock for Sheffield Wednesday next season, relegation for Chesterfield and Barnsley, and a surprise challenge for the play-offs from the Mariners, despite their apparent belief that John McDermott left Grimsby over the summer. "On his holidays, perhaps?" suggests one waggish Diary reader.
Another email reaches these parts from Mark Wilson - not the Scunthorpe-born Middlesbrough midfielder who as a schoolboy sensationally snubbed a contract offer from GTFC in favour of a move to lower-league upstarts Manchester United, but the Diary reader who lives in Tring. In compliance with a recent request from the club to suggest accompanying music for the players' entrance onto the playing field, Mark's miscellaneous Mariners medley (with tongue firmly in cheek, he adds) runs thusly: "It's the End of the World As We Know It - REM; Bring on the Clowns - Barbara Streisand; Down, Down - Status Quo; Where Have All the Good Times Gone? - can't remember who that's by; Roll Over, Lay Down - Status Quo. And for the first couple of games of the season: Who Are You? - The Who." The artist that eludes Mark is The Kinks, who as dyed-in-the-wool Town fans also penned tributes to Alan Pouton (Act Nice and Gentle), John McDermott (A Well Respected Man), Clive Platt (Tired of Waiting For You), and even the road to Blundell Park itself (Dead End Street). Thanking you!
Monday 4 August
Hello readers, it's Miles here again - back by popular demand. Well, okay,
back by virtue of the fact that Mr Diary is again unavailable, and everyone
else is kind of busy. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow, we hope, so
please bear with us.
Friday afternoon seems a long time ago to be writing a news item about, but
as you no doubt will have seen, Town continued their unbeaten pre-season by
coming out 2-1 winners over Middlesbrough. Unless another practice match is
hastily arranged in the next few days, this was the last opportunity for
Paul Groves to assess triallists Ten Heuvel, Edwards and Crowe with a view
to completing his Mariners jigsaw. Of the three, the Grovemeister may be
most keen to settle terms with Larry Ten H, who just could be the
ball-holding forward Town are looking for. Stop sniggering at the back.
Mr Ten Heuvel has become somewhat of a Hobson's choice, anyway, since that
other large Dutch geezer, Clyde Wijnhard, continues to spend his time on an
Oldham gym treadmill and a mobile phone, rather than getting his fat useless
arse over to NE Lincs. "Clyde
Wijnhard did not take part because his agent has not been out of contact,"
explains the BBC Humber site, rather confusingly. Unless of course this
means that Clyde's agent refused to hang up, thus preventing Clyde from
driving. Or something.
Of the other potential Mariners, though: Stuart Rowson reiterates that a
striker and a centre-back are PG's main priorities, which "leaves little in
the pot to offer free agent Crowe, who looked a class act at right-back
yesterday." Hmmm... well... see Tony's match report for an alternative view
to this. Oh yeah. Mike Edwards. Graham Rodger said he was quite good, or
something. Make of that what you will while we all wait to see what colour
smoke comes belching out of the Blundell Park chimneys.
A snippet of news regarding a couple of ex-Mariners now: Chris Thompson has
signed a two-year contract with Conference side Northwich Victoria, having
spent part of the summer on trial at Belgium club KV Mechelen. Another old
boy and Conference starlet, Daryl Clare, has pissed his manager off,
apparently, by hiding an injury. Clare is having exploratory surgery on
a long-standing (no pun intended) knee problem, leaving Chester boss Mark
Wright without his services for the start of the season, and is kind of
miffed that little Dazza didn't hobble straight to Chester Royal Infirmary
as soon as the whistle blew at the end of last season. Whoops.
Finally, Mat Hare kindly informs us that the News Of The World have tipped
finish 20th in the division this season. I'm sure you'd like to join us at
Cod Almighty in a collective "PFFFF!" in the general direction of the NotW
offices. Twentieth our collective arse.
Friday 1 August
According to the CIA it's best advised not to mention "45 minutes". What would they know, eh? Due to bad light it's as long as South Africa will get to twat England's bowlers about before lunch. And 45 minutes is also as long as I've got to tap out today's diary, so I'll make my excuses now. Hello, and welcome, dear reader, to Friday's diary. Your pilot today is Simon Wilson and we'll be cruising at approxiamtely two feet above ground level, thanks to the marvels of height-adjustable office chairs.
A quick shufty through the official site brings us news of Middlesbrough's Kevin George being invited back to the club. The centre-back spent two spells on trial at Blundell Park last season, which begs the question: will it be a case of Curious George for another trip to North East Lincolnshire?
And as a canny coincidence Middlesbrough are taking on Town this afternoon in a "closed doors friendly". Jason Crowe and Mike Edwards will get another run out, this time on the Blundell Park turf. Get used to the ghostly silence, lads. And there'll be ten a-Heuvels from the rest of the team for Laurens. Drumming up his best Glenn Hoddle impression, Paul Groves thinks Town signing the Dutchman is "a case of speaking to Sheffield United and finding out what the situation is there." I personally keep getting LTH mixed up with Danish director Lars von Trier. Anyway.
One player who won't be in Grimsby this afternoon is Clyde Wijnhard. "We are still trying to make inroads to actually get him over to play in a game." Inroads? Just get him heading east on the M62 and have the club's chief executive, Ian Fleming, intercept him at the Humber Bridge. Grabbing Chris Bolder before he went on holiday was simply a warm up for Mr Fleming, I presume.
The Diary would pour scorn over some of the sources we've quoted in his absence this week. Clearly his standards (and the cover price of his chosen newspaper) are higher than that of us cheap temps, brought in while he flounces around the country like the fairy he is. So, if you want substantiated rumours where better to go than the Fishy message board? "Erwin van Bertmeister from Club Brugge in Belgium arrived today for a 2 week trial" taps one contributor. Hell, we don't care if it's true or not - we didn't want to let that name go unnoticed. That's a lot of letters to fit onto the back of a shirt though.
Some of you - like me - might have found a letter from the club on your doormat yesterday reminding you that you haven't renewed your season ticket. I thought I had sent my renewal off ages ago but I emptied my bag last night to find my renewal letter and the payment of a speeding ticket. Er, whoops. Not to worry though, for you can still take advantage of the pre-season discount until the day before the new season starts. Yipee! And, as I munched through my Mat Hare/Graham Hockless/Marmite-laden toast I found that I could get a further 5% discount on my season ticket if I "did" the Gold Bond thing. Ah, what the hell! £4.32 a month - money t'club an'all that, as my mate Gobes uses as his justification for buying yet more Bradford Bulls merchandise. I did resist personalising my seat though. The temptation to write "Coco is a gimp" was too great.
Continuing the postal theme, I also had a card from the postie telling me that I had a recorded delivery that needed signing for. But I had to wait 48 hours before ringing to rearrange delivery. Which - due to the time on the card and opening hours at my local depot - would have meant Monday. So half an hour after (unfairly) muttering "Postman bloody Pap", the doorbell rings and - lo! - it's my postie who was just passing by and has my parcel with him. Crikey! Talk about service! Overjoyed and speechless. I signed for the parcel, direct from our friends at Grimsby Town Football Club. But what a hero my postie is. If you know of any postie awards, let me know.
And that seems to be that. I'm off to the pub to watch the test match and dream of the new season - a week tomorrow!
Today's diary was brought to you by two hours' sleep, three cups of tea and the letter U.