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Wednesday 30 June
Wednesday 30 June is what they call a slow news day. If the Diary were the six o'clock news then a day like today would have me reaching for 'remarkable' new scientific research showing that if you don't drink much beer then you won't get drunk, or something; but all that can be found of note in the small world of Grimsby Town Football Club is an (admittedly excellent) interview with Ashley Sestanovich on the club's official website ("The groundsman has done a magnificent job! Let me on there!") and a bittersweet Grimbo Telegraph story about a talented local kid once coached by the Diary's old teacher Geoff Bartholomew who has spurned GTFC, Scunny and Hull and decided instead that his future interests would be best served by signing for Donny Rovers. Ah, the times; ah, the morals.
This column will not be brought to you tomorrow by your regular Diary, as I am off to get rained on with Simon Wilson in Headingley and possibly watch a bit of cricket in between. Guest Diary – are you out there, mate? Can you make it a day early this week?
Tuesday 29 June
Russell Slade is set to make his third new signing since slipping into his Town manager's trousers, as right-sided midfielder and Yorkshire/Soviet dissident Ashley Sestanovich is probably about to add his footprints to that deeply trodden path between Bramall Lane and Blundell Park by signing on a season-long loan from Sheffield United. "We felt his chances might be limited at the Lane this season," explains Blades vice-chairman Terry Robinson. "After watching him during the season we can make a decision on his future with us." Twenty-two-year-old Sestanovich – a big lad, apparently – spent three months on loan with Slade's Scarborough side last season, scoring three times in 13 games, and the Diary for one is confident that this Ashley will be better than Fickling.
The arrival of Ash Sest, as the Diary is going to call him for at least the duration of this sentence, will provide cover on the flanks should Graham Hockless' agent decide against signing a new contract to stay at BP. On that front, says Russ on Town's official website, "Things are moving along and he is thinking things over." Sorry – did I say Graham Hockless' agent? I mean Graham Hockless. How silly of me.
Elsewhere in the bottom division, the new exponents of Ian Atkins' cultured passing football Bristol Rovers continue to hoover up every out-of-contract player within earshot of their manager's big Brummie gob. Northampton's Paul Trollope has thrown in his lot with the Gasheads, joining not just Captain Invisible but the talented Jamie Forrester, Mansfield's Craig Disley, Kidderminster's Craig Hinton and Blackpool defender Steve Elliott. Atkins is also thought to be weighing up moves for Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Deco, Raul and the winner of Strictly Come Dancing.
The Diary is yet to meet Russell Slade's missus but can only hope her arms are long and flexible, because Town's new manager is apparently paying much heed to his duties regarding the application of suncream. An email from Keith Collins explains that the club's current flurry of transfer activity is taking place despite "Boss Russ being on holiday in Spain until Friday" and Graham Rodger being similarly indisposed. Keith also has a word or two of petrol to pour onto the MIF/TIF debate, which Richard Dawson reignited yesterday. "Solve the problem by using instant tea," he suggests. "It's got the milk already added." Not for the Diary: that way lies the madness of Blundell Park tea and scalded tongues.
Is it possible to upset thousands of people by doing nothing? It is if you're Stuart Campbell, and now that he has gone, Diary readers seemingly feel at liberty to loosen their tongues as to the player's non-performances in a Town shirt last season. Andy Holt writes: "Surely we should not be surprised by yesterday's news that our transparent former midfielder signed for Bristol Rovers excited by the prospect of playing under both Ian Atkins and lofted balls from the cloggers Atkins typically employs in lieu of defenders. The route one game seems an ideal opportunity for Mr Campbell to stand around doing nothing, and in fact, rather than last season when more was expected of him, next season he'll be able to disappear into the background as part of his manager's game plan." A shrewd observation, Mr Holt. The rest of you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with your tributes to the departed leader.
Monday 28 June
Still no sign of these new forwards Russ keeps promising us, though Town's official website has, bizarrely, quoted out-of-contract Aldershot striker Tim Sills as saying he has been in talks with the Mariners – without itself passing comment on the player's claim. The quote originates from an interview in the Aldershot News & Mail in which Sills, who scored 20-odd for the Shots in the Conf last season, says: "Grimsby were interested in me but they wanted me to go up there and sign on the dotted line last week. I didn't want to do that and felt that I should hear from Aldershot first." After the Hampshire club's recent decision to go full-time, the player is uncertain whether to leave his day job as a marketing executive with the Tussaud's Group, but the recent example of Stuart Campbell surely proves not only that Town are willing to field part-timers but that the club could also put to good use Sills' expert knowledge of waxwork dummies.
If you like your herrings a touch on the scarlet side, let's go back to the OS, because today's official development is the prospect of a new midfielder within 24 hours. Putters-together of two and two are wondering whether the man might not be Northampton's Paul Trollope, who spent a month on loan at BP way back in 1996, and who is reported to be leaving Sixfields for another fourth-flight side.
Another former Town player who could be on his way back is Scarborough's Mark Quayle, who is similarly reputed to be jilting Slade's old side for some hot League loving, but in its best 'your guess is as good as mine' style, the official-but-wants-to-be-unofficial website again reports only that the player is "rumoured to be" on Russ's Big List. The Liverpool-born striker – but let's not hold that against him – failed to trouble the teamsheet during a brief spell with the Mariners in the late 1990s, although before leaving to score a load of goals in the Conference with four different clubs his exertions in the Mariners' reserves did once lead to the memorable Grimsby Telegraph headline Quayle hits bar.
And still another man who seems happy to revisit old ground is Richard Dawson, Lincolnshire's leading advocate for the practice of putting milk in the cup first when you make a cup of tea. Richard cites "the Newsnight email from Gavin Esler", which for reasons best known to itself features a quote on his pet topic from the former royal butler Paul Burrell: "Never put milk in your tea first: it's what common people do", which apparently "backs up my earlier assertion that the MIF/TIF debate all dates back to cheap crockery. I put it to you that the average Town fan would not want to emulate a prick like Burrell. Mend your ways, Mr Diary, or you may be judged to be a sycophant to the royal family." Well, Richard, the Diary's secret source in the house of Windsor insists that Her Maj in fact noisily slurps builders' tea of such strength as to almost melt the royal silver. We may very well wish her neck on the guillotine, but we can't fault Liz's nose for a good brew.
Finally, while we're laughing at Stuart Campbell, he says he was won over to sign for Bristol Rovers by the prospect of playing for Ian Atkins. Now let's laugh some more. Enjoy watching them balls a-whizzing by overhead, Stu.
Friday 25 June
"It is important that we don't panic though." As Russell Slade rehearsed his mid-season interview in front of the mirror, he failed to realise that his every word was being transcribed for the Official Site by a context-insensitive cub reporter. Earlier, we are told, Russell had reminded himself to keep looking for a left-footed forward, and that he had a date to talk with a striker on Saturday. Best to leave it to the afternoon, mate, they're often a bit wrecked first thing. Apparently this all is sufficient to warrant a "Boss Hoping For Third Signing On Monday" headline.
Meantime there has been a lively and excited debate going on between Darlington fans as to the size of the travelling contingent from Grimsby for the opening match of next season. This had been fuelled, presumably, by the comments of Quakers' new chief executive Andy Battison who told the Newcastle Evening Gazette: "We are delighted to start the season by entertaining one of the biggest clubs in our division.” Well, Darlo fans, if you want to get 'the largest number of away fans at the first game of the season' as some of you are predicting, then all I can promise is that we'll bring more than, more than…oh Yeovil. And they won't be coming to admire your new stadium which will be, I'm sure, just as much as a monstrosity as all the other plastic and steel prefabs which have sprung up around the nation.
Your Guest Diarist has been feeling increasingly twitchy, as day followed day with no absolute confirmation that Town were rid of Stuart Campbell. Mafeking has been relieved, however, with news on the Bristol Rovers Official Site that Campbell has joined them on a two year contract. Predictably contradicting his earlier assertions about being dead keen to stay at Grimsby, Cambell said: "My contract was up at Grimsby and they offered me a new one, but I just felt it was time to move on." We felt that way too, Stuart. My spies report that his dressing room locker has been emptied. That means Stu has taken his invisibility cloak with him, with the result that it could be some considerable time before the gasheads actually notice their new signing on the field of play.
"When will you learn?" fumes Mark Wilson in an email to the Diary. Apparently Mr Diary’s jibes in the direction of Messrs Clare and Widdrington mean: "not only have you confirmed all our fears about Daryl Clare's inevitable hand in Chester hammering Town, you have openly derided Tommy Widdrington which will guarantee a bizarre flurry of goal-scoring and Rooneyesque skill when we play Macclesfield." I must leap to Diary’s defence here, Mark, on the basis that it is a risk well worth taking in my judgement. We should look for any excuse to rubbish Widdrington, who has peddled his own misguided sense of self-worth too often for my liking. Bring him on, I say, bring him on. Anyway, I'm off strawberry picking before it rains again. See yer.
Thursday 24 June
A couple of decades ago, before graffiti became an 'urban' art form for 'da kidz', publishers used to issue books of humorous scribblings supposedly collected from real offices and toilets. They used to say things like "BUY BLITISH!", which was really funny, because that's how those peculiar foreign people talk, you see. Another thing they used to say was "To err is human – to really mess things up needs a computer," which your technophile Diary used to think was Luddite nonsense until this morning, when, of the six Lincolnshire derbies Town will play next season, the Football League's fixture-calculating software managed to place a grand total of one on a bank holiday. Yep – Christmas and New Year throw up clashes with Macclesfield, Rochdale and Cambridge, while Rushden visit on Easter Monday, and the August bank holiday sees Town renew their fierce and ancient rivalry with, er, Wycombe Wanderers. If you want the full list, you'd best hit the club's official website before the League's crack squad of paramilitary copyright enforcers drops a grenade down the Diary's chimney.
Mr Burns: "Who is that influential midfielder?" Smithers: "Michael Simpson, sir." And he's off to Leyton Orient. After being released by Wycombe, the player is widely believed to have had a natter with Russell Slade about teaming up with Stacy Coldicott to form the most formidable midfield duo in the bottom division but has instead remained down south, like some kind of slack-jointed sipper of beer mixed with lemonade.
Town fans in the mid-1990s were not fooled by Tommy Widdrington's tendency to stand around and point a lot into thinking that the badly-bearded, skill-devoid waster was possessed of some kind of leadership ability; and nor were his teammates. Over in Macclesfield, though, they seem to be a bit more easily convinced, and the town's seemingly desperate football club side has handed 'Widdo' not only a new one-year contract but with it the captain's armband. "Hopefully I'm experienced enough now to do a good job as captain," the overpriced midfielder has told the Macclesfield Express, which declines to add whether he can pass a ball yet.
Wednesday 23 June
There's knack all new to report on Russell Slade's legendary guestlist for Heaven, still less his transfer targets, and even Town's official website seems to be taking a day off from its recent spooling of pages that add little to the sum total of human knowledge beyond the words: "ooh yes, new signings, any minute now, any miiiiiinuuuuute... and while we're waiting, why don't you sign up for our official text message service..." Today's main cause for interest seems to be the not entirely interesting fact that Slade has phoned up his old boss at Scarborough, Malcolm Reynolds, to clear the air over Scott Kerr, the Seadogs midfielder Town were recently accused by Reynolds of approaching illegally in an exciting Manchester United-style tapping-up scandal. But, like I say, not happening. Yawnus maximus.
This is probably an opportune moment, then, to give the dangerous oxygen of publicity to a Lincolnshire football forum to be held next month, featuring in the black and white corner Russell Slade and Dave Smith, and in the Red Impy corner Keith Alexander and his star striker Simon Yeo. The event takes place equidistantly 'twixt Grimsby and Lincoln, at Market Rasen Cricket Club at 7:30pm on Monday 12 July, and is chaired by Grahame Lloyd (author of the recent One Hell of a Season, which chronicled Lincoln's and Boston's 2002–03 season). "With all four Lincolnshire clubs in the same division of the Football League for the first time," says Grahame, "the rivalry next season is sure to be intense – especially between the Mariners and the Imps." Tickets cost five of your English pounds and are available on the night or in advance by phoning Ron Myland on 01673 842663. There's not an England game on that night, is there?
Watching a collection of semi-interested millionaires see out the last few international tournaments before the G14 take over the whole world is one way of passing the time between Town's new summer signings, anyway; another is to bite your nails; other people might alleviate the boredom by taking up a hobby – felt-making or batik, perhaps, or selling their house; while still others kill time by checking all their old email addresses, which are unused but remain operational. And so it is that the Diary has discovered loads of old email from Séan Carr, Paul Thundercliffe and Dan Humphrey. If you could use email@example.com from now on please, chaps – ta.
PT's is among the more current of these great apocryphal missives, which states in response to Mark Stilton's recent revelation that the mayor of North East Lincolnshire is an Aston Villa fan: "Not only does the mayor wear a villa top when delivering papers; he also wears one when serving me tea at work. And very proud of his Midlands men he is too. Yep! The Mayor is my tea boy! And, before you ask, he puts the water in first..." Ask him what he'll do for GTFC if re-elected, Paul.
Tuesday 22 June
The Grimsby public have always warmed to the Lawrie McMenemys and Lennie Lawrences of this world, with their easy-spoken, populist manner, often at the expense of those managers who rely less on talking a good game. Hence the modern-day messageboard cliché about the perceived need for "good PR skills", and hence also the town's underappreciation of Ron Ashman, whose death at the age of 78 was announced last night. Following spells with Norwich and Scunthorpe – where, in 1968, he had signed a 17-year-old Kevin Keegan – Ashman took the reins at BP after McMenemy walked out on the club in 1973. Modest and unassuming in manner, he guided the recently promoted side to sixth place in the old third division, introducing an attractive style of play which anticipated the 'passing and movement' that would serve another underappreciated GTFC manager, Alan Buckley, so well two decades later. Town lost momentum in the 1974–75 campaign, though rumours were rife of player dissatisfaction over pay, and posterity may very well view Ashman's sacking in February, after a Friday night defeat at Tranmere, as harshly impatient. The manager returned to the Old Show Ground, where he remained until quitting the game in 1981.
From the past to the future: the Future of Youth campaign, to be precise, which is being relaunched with the help of Town's supporters' trust. Set up by former youth team coach Paul 'Scouse Hair' Wilkinson in 2002, the campaign is credited with having raised the funds necessary to keep current brightish young things Graham Hockless, Greg Young and Kirk Wheeler at the club, and GTST is running a big prize draw to bring in more cash to help support the next generation of ickle star players. Prizes include a car, a holiday and a spanking new computer, and more information is there to be had on the trust's website.
Stuart 'The Ghost' Campbell has not, or not yet, signed for Bristol Rovers, Town have announced. The elusive midfielder has admitted holding talks with Gasheads boss Ian Atkins but presumably gave up trying to understand his Brummie accent and came back to BP. "We can't decide if [Campbell and Phil Jevons] are going to be Grimsby Town players," says Russell Slade. "I can't make them that – that needs to come from them." If only somebody had said that two years ago. Stu and Phil could be met on their way out by at least one of the two strikers and two midfield players Slade has targeted for in-bringage this week – one of whom, records the official website breathlessly, "is currently with a first division side." To which throngs of cynical Grimbarian web users respond in unison: "Right, so he must be good then, eh..."
Monday 21 June
The bottom division is no place for the evanescent, as I'm sure Ian Atkins tells his players every week, and so it can be of little concern to Grimsby supporters that their team will kick off their first season in the basement for nigh on a decade and a half without the 'services' of two of the players who took them there: Phil Jevons and Stuart Campbell. Lazy bastard Jevons has rejected the offer of a new contract at Blundell Park to join the Mariners' fourth tier rivals Yeovil on a two-year deal after managing just 18 goals in his 63 league appearances for Town. Blah blah blah, 35-yarder at Anfield, four goals against Barnsley, la la la, whatever. Phil's fellow waster Campbell, meanwhile, is reported to have joined Bristol Rovers after similarly turning down a new deal to do carry on doing chuff all for GTFC. Bye, then, guys. Not missing you already.
After bringing in two defenders in as many days last week, Russell Slade is doing more shoring up than a flood-stricken equatorial coastal village as global warming continues to kick in, and a third such player has arrived at BP for a trial. Paul Gaughan, an economic refugee from Scottish football, has earned his month-long run-out simply by travelling all the way down from north of the border just for a chat with yer man Russ, who says: "He's one of them looking for a break. He's hungry, he's enthusiastic." A 23-year-old centre-half, Gaughan has played for Hamilton and Greenock and looks a sure bet to sow confusion on North East Lincs as to whether his name is pronounced Gorn or Gorgon.
Town's sudden preponderance of centre-backs will deepen supporters' unpleasant sense of foreboding as to Slade's intended playing formation, and a Grimsby Telegraph interview with Greg Young does little today to calm our panic. "The boss is thinking about a different way of playing to that which we were used to under Nicky Law," says Young Greg, "maybe with three centre-halves." Well, if anything is going to sell the new system to fans then branding it as some kind of Nicky Law antithesis will do the job, but the only way the Diary is going to welcome Town playing with three centre-halves is if they can still field two full-backs, two forwards, four across the midfield and a goalkeeper as well.
When bad things happen, weak-minded people who struggle to deal with reality often react by looking back to an earlier time and inaccurately reinterpret it as a halcyon age in which, by definition, no bad things could ever happen. Driven by misguided subconscious impulses perhaps moulded by the archetype of the Christian creation story and humankind's fall from divine grace, they will convince themselves, for instance, that children would never misbehave, burglary hadn't been invented, and every pop record released before 1975 was really good. Town's new "state-of-the-art restaurant and conference suite" to be opened next season is to be named the Lawrie McMenemy Suite.
Friday 18 June
"I don't know what I want – but I want it now!" So roared Sir Henry at Rawlinson End to his butler, Scrotum, as he blasted the ceiling with both barrels. When someone asked Viv Stanshall why he named the character Scrotum, his reply was reported to be: "Because he's a wrinkled retainer, of course."
The aforementioned, gentle readers, serves to demonstrate all that is best about the English: capable of ineffably droll wordplay, and possessed of an enduring ability to be perceived by the world at large as failing to meet our potential. Usually because we don't really understand what it is we want to achieve. Do the supporters of Grimsby Town really know what they want? Or are they like Sir Henry – wasted to hell, acutely conscious of the horribly inexorable way that tock follows tick every bloody morning, and struggling to articulate what would actually make them happy?
But don't worry, folks, I've boiled it all down, examined the scrapings at the bottom of the pan, and discovered that there are common Town goals: financial survival for another season; sticking to 4-4-2; avoiding the long ball game; maintaining respect by trying to play passing football; signing committed and enthusiastic players. It is fairly obvious already that Slade, Rodger and Fenty are trying hard at the first and last. As for tactics, time will tell, and your Guest Diarist's breath remains bated. By the way, for those of you who exclaim that 'staying up' is the be-all and end-all of everything, well I'm not so sure. Life's too short to spend it watching bad football, says this classic English layabout.
Ignoring the 'lies, damned lies, and statistics' adage for once, I can cheer you all up by reporting that ace Cod Almighty burrower Mark Stilton has cleverly worked out that Justin Whittle played a total of 18 league matches for the Tigers last season. The results for those matches read P18 W11 D7 L0. Goals conceded 17. Impressive, or what? There is also a well-written eulogy to Justin's time at Hull in the Hull Daily Mail today. Having read it, I'm warming to him already.
As predicted in yesterday's Diary, and everywhere else actually, the club has finally owned up to signing Simon Ramsden, via a piece on the official site. Simon, whose personal website does not appear to have been the most popular place on the interweb, judging by the complete absence of entries on the questions page, admits to knowing former Mariner John Oster "really well". He then promises to hot-foot it round to Johnny's place immediately on return to the north-east, to get the low down on life, the Universe and, more importantly, Cleethorpes. Before you ask, yes, I have sent him a question. More on this story later.
Dick of Legbourne, sounding more like a bloke from the middle ages, rather than the heading-rapidly-towards-middle-aged bloke that he probably is, has written in babbling on about the 'buzz' at Blundell Park these days: "New players are arriving intrigued because Town's gaffer has got two heads. Shaking hands with the most recent acquisition Simon Ramsden, the photograph on the official site clearly shows that Russell's a freak and that his alter-ego is actually growing out of his right shoulder. Blummin' heck, Graham Rodger is just being used!!" My advice is to lay off the cat-nip, Dick. The buzz is one thing, but it wreaks havoc with your eyesight later on.
Brum-based Cod Almighty lead vocalist, Pete Green, has been wasting the day away again reading obscure provincial newspapers and has spotted that Slade's old club are kicking up mightily about alleged illegal approaches by Grimsby to midfield player Scott Kerr. The Scarborough Evening news reported yesterday that Boro chairman Malcolm Reynolds is fuming over an approach by "an agent working for the Mariners". Kerr, who has already signed a contract extension, has now been made club captain, to show how much he is loved and wanted by those Seadogs. Don't worry Malcolm – the chances of the Mariners being able to pay anyone a transfer fee these days are roughly zero. Feathers are not sufficiently ruffled, however, to cancel the proposed pre-season friendly between the clubs, and Mr Reynolds' parting shot makes him sound like a whining child as he tell us: "I am really appalled – it has caused so much ill-feeling at the club. I'm not sure if we will be following things up because the damage has already been done now." Stop whining Malcolm, and eat your tea.
Thursday 17 June
Names we were promised and names we have got. First up, Hull's longest serving player Justin Whittle has signed a one-year deal with the Mariners despite a similar new deal being on the table at the KC; Tahgers websites are incorrectly reporting that the player was tempted ovver the Umber by a two-year contract, possibly in disbelief that any footballer, let alone one so esteemed by HCFC fans, might prefer first-team action at a real football club to sitting on the bench at a council-subsidised one. And esteemed Whittle most certainly is. A 33-year-old Derby-born central defender, he was bought out of the army by Glasgow Celtic in 1994 before moving on to Stoke and then Hull in 1998, where he notched up 219 appearances. The player's strict military discipline is bound to be an asset at Blundell Park after last season's anything-goes defending, when the free-love back four notoriously refused to tackle for fear of damaging their karma.
Meanwhile, Sunderland defender Simon Ramsden is talking cash, perks and bonuses as we speak (presumably with John Fenty). The 23-year-old 23-year-old's first-team playing career at the Stadium of Light is less extensive than Whittle's record at Hull, totalling a grand 90 seconds of football in the former Mackems' FA Cup win over Ipswich in January. It is not known whether 'Ronnie', as the player will doubtless become known should he throw in his lot with the Mariners, actually touched the ball during this outing, but he spent the whole of the 2002–03 season on loan with Notts County, where he made 23 full appearances and 11 with a plastic spoon in his mouth. The Diary awaits despatches from our Nottingham correspondents on Ramsden's progress at Meadow Lane, and in the meantime we can amuse ourselves by browsing his own personal website. Bless.
A third target for Mr Slade – though not one who GTFC appear too keen to acknowledge publicly – appears to be Scarborough midfielder Scott Kerr, another former Hully, who made, ooh, loads of appearances for Russ's Seadogs last season. The Town manager's old club are attempting to fend off interest in the player from Blundell Park by threatening to "report Grimsby Town to the FA". Well, if that's your attitude, you can forget your high-profile pre-season friendly against us, pal!
And as former Notts County forwards go, Gary McSwegan sounds like the Lund to Tony Hackworth's Antoine-Curier, if you follow me. Slade has told the Grimsby Telegraph that the Kilmarnock striker "is certainly one on the long list of players I am interested in" but emphasises that he has not made an approach for the player at this stage. McSwegan has also turned out for Dundee United and Hearts and scored in one of his two appearances for the Scottish national team. Cor!
Finally, no sooner has the Diary just had a nice chat about Paul Groves with the estate agent who came round to value the house than Town's legendary former player and slightly less successful former manager signed for York City. The Conference side has awarded the 38-year-old Mr Groves a one-year deal to appear next season alongside his one-time GTFC teammates Kevin Donovan and Minstermen player-assistant manager Lee Nogan, who has told the York Evening Press that Groves "will also help us in the managerial department because he had a difficult time at Grimsby where they had no finances and, like ourselves, he had to cut the wage bill drastically." Bloody good luck to him, eh?
Wednesday 16 June
Today's Diary, as always, is far from 100 per cent sarcastic. Bitter, cynical and snide as hell, perhaps; but if this column were based on sarcasm then it would say things like: "Ooh, that BBC Humber website is really good, isn't it!" Which it doesn't. Well, not often. Incidentally, you get some really clever people on messageboards, don't you.
Russell's Daily Update, the new Diary-rivalling feature on Town's official website upon whose every word supporters increasingly hang, reports that the "new face" expected to be unmasked at Blundell Park today like a Scooby Doo villain will not now be shown to the world until tomorrow morning. The consolation prize for you pesky kids is that fresh fizzogs will be "at least one" in number, so that'll probably be Michael Simpson plus one from Tim Sills, Colin Oojammy-Fella and Ashley Thingummajigglybob.
"There's plenty more fish in the sea!" That's what the Diary's mum used to say every time I got dumped by Michelle Stewart in the fourth and fifth year of senior school. "What do I want to snog a fish for?" was my habitually ungrateful reply. These days, of course, there aren't even plenty more fish in the sea, because those wicked swarthy Icelanders and Spaniards have caught them all (that's sarcasm), but Town's immortal inflatable Harry the Haddock has risen from the flames of the overfished seabed like an aquatic phoenix and will soon be available for purchase in the club shop once again. Plough Lane, FA Cup… bananas… 1980s… yuppies… Maggie Thatcher, Ronald Reagan… isn't he? Wasn't he? He isn't any more. Marvellous.
Over to the Diary's lunchtime postbag, then, and it seems I'm not the only one to still have issues with a certain Sunderland winger. "I wonder if Greg Young was tempted into signing a new deal," writes Miles Moss, "by the prospect of playing in a shirt with his name on the front and back of his shirt. Lee Sharpe had a similar experience at Man Utd some years ago when they were sponsored by his electrical-goods-manufacturing near-namesake; John Oster meanwhile is reportedly considering a deal with Norwegian side Lillestrom, a team sponsored by trampoline and syringe manufacturers Jumped Up Little Prick."
Finally today, then, Mailer-DAEMON has emailed the Diary to say: "Unable to deliver message to the following address(es). firstname.lastname@example.org: Sorry, I wasn't able to establish an SMTP connection. (#4.4.1) I'm not going to try again; this message has been in the queue too long." Well, they say season ticket sales are going well; imagine how much better they might do if (a) it took less than 15 minutes to find an email address on Town's official website to request an application pack; and (b) said address didn't bounce back your email.
Tuesday 15 June
Town fans who recall the hopeless tactical mess Robin Lawrence made of his Grimsby team may note with some consternation comments made by Greg Young on the club's official website. The youthful centre-half, who has just put his name to a new two-year contract, lets slip that Russell Slade "might want me to play in a back three" – a system quickly imposed on the Mariners by Slade's less than successful Cockney predecessor and just as quickly abandoned for the disastrous failure it was. If you're reading, Russ, then the very first and most fundamental thing you need to know about GTFC is that it is a 4-4-2 club, and that's the formation, not the attendance. If you're not reading, then can you ask somebody else to pass on the message?
The Diary is also informed that Kirk Wheeler has signed a new one-year deal to stay at Blundell Park; I think it's from the official SMS service or something like that. If you're struggling to put a face to the name then that'll be because Wheeler – a chunky-looking central defender who has just turned 20 – is yet to make a first-team appearance, and even failed a trial with Mr Slade's Scarborough team last October; but circumstances change, and if Charlie Stubbs can suddenly decide it's a good idea to sleep with Bev after all then who is the Diary to tell him otherwise?
No longer is Brigg just a place where Rich Uncle Diary has had a great big house built specially to his requirements; it is now also a destination on the Mariners' not terribly busy pre-season schedule this summer. Town will take on the Zebras, as I seem to recall Brigg Town being nicknamed on account of their almost unique black and white striped shirts, on Tuesday 15 July at the unusual hour of 7:15pm.
Dave Chambers has become the first person in the history of the Universe to compose an email on the subject of the Diary summary that appears on the front page of Cod Almighty, and which could usually be better or wittier than it is but I'm usually just too jaded and fagged out after writing the main Diary to give much of a toss, to be honest. Congratulations, Mr C! "Having a right mayor," he quotes from yesterday's collection of laboured puns, before asking: "Is Peter Barker a Conservative?" Which is quite clever, although David Blunkett is of course living proof that the Tory party holds no monopoly on right-wing politics. Barker is listed as an independent, actually, Dave, which means the answer to your question is probably: yes and a bit mad as well, or a shopkeeper, or both.
Monday 14 June
Today's Diary wonders whether a mathematical formula might be established to demonstrate a proportionate link between the prevalence of St George flags on cars and buildings and the number of arrests for public order offences following an England defeat.
Russell Slade's first new acquisition as Mariners boss is likely to be 30-year-old Wycombe midfielder Michael Simpson. Released, to the disapproval of many Chairboys fans, by Wanderers manager Tony Adams, the player once featured in the Notts County youth side managed by Slade and has been in talks with GTFC, reports the Bucks Free Press (a Home Counties newspaper rather than an operation to forge banknotes). Town's fellow bottom-flight clubs Bristol Rovers and Leyton Orient are also believed to be interested, but the Mariners' recent league record could prove decisive. "Grimsby are an ambitious club," believes Simpson. "It wasn't long ago they were in the first division and I think it could be a good move for me." Far from having been nicknamed Homer, the player won Wycombe's player of the year award in the 2002–03 season.
If Simpson joins the Blundell Park revolution he will become the eighth player on the books rather than the seventh, as Young Greg Young has just signed a new contract, but we don't know how long it is. Another name on Slade's long, long list of possibles appears to be that of Aldershot striker Tim Sills, who hit 21 goals in the Conference last season, but as with last week's Tony Hackworth scare story, any move for the player is at a considerably less advanced stage than is the case with Michael Simpson, like when the butter has melted into the milk when you're making scrambled egg, and you've just put the egg in and started to stir but it'll be another couple of minutes before it's done.
With a few Town fans having realised that the club will not now be given 300 squillion pounds by Lawrie McMenemy, Julie Peasgood or the bloke on their shift who got four numbers on the lottery the other week, John Fenty is increasingly having unreasonable expectations heaped on his shoulders and being seen as a sugar-daddy successor to Peter Furneaux as chairman. The local fish magnate has blotted his copybook, however, by speaking out in support of the breathtakingly stupid 'rebranding' of the Football League that will see Town kick off next season's campaign of fourth-tier football in something called Coca-Cola League Two. "Hopefully there will be serious benefits to this club as time goes on," Fenty has told the Grimsby Telegraph, presumably adding a word or two as to George Bush's impending admission to Mensa and the Pope's expected conversion to Protestantism.
Season ticket sales continue to go well, meanwhile, with Town's commercial manager Tony Richardson beaming: "It is great to have such a good response from the fans... Now we need the fans to continue their backing as we push for an immediate return to Division Two." A pity, then, that the mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Peter Barker, couldn't respond to the club's rallying call in the manner of his constituents, as this Grimsby Telegraph picture found by Mark Stilton demonstrates. "Nice to see the mayor showing his commitment to the town by wearing a... VILLA T-shirt," writes Mark. "Genius."
Friday 11 June
"Mentally he's as strong as an ox," said Michael Owen yesterday as he struggled to explain how good his Liverpool team mate Jamie Carragher really is. Now having been brought up in a barn with oxen and the like, your Guest Diarist feels vaguely qualified to comment on their mental strength. 'Stubborn' and 'slow' are the words that come first. Which describes Mr Carragher quite well, actually.
Giles Smith wrote an amusing piece in the Times yesterday on life inside the strange world that is Sky Sports News. It starts by explaining that "the channel is predicated on the notion that, at any point of the day, somewhere in the world a sports story is breaking of sufficient moment to be announced immediately, in tones of gravity, by someone in a suit." Giles goes on to say that this holds true only if "you allow a groin strain picked up in training by an apprentice at Grimsby Town to be a sports story worth putting on a suit for." Cod Almighty yearns for such gossip at the moment, as RussellSladesblackandwhitearmy remains at roughly the size of a cub scout patrol. But don't worry, gentle reader, none of your diarists will ever be seen in a suit.
The colossally stupid idea of renaming the Football League divisions has, predictably, inspired a few Cod Almighty readers to vent their spleen via this column. The ever-excitable Miles Moss penned an email that succinctly describes the episode: "Is this a late April Fool? What, it's true? That must be the biggest pile of catsick and goatwank ever thought up. And it's to 'raise the profile' of the lower leagues, apparently. What utter bollocks. I'll raise my boot up Brian Mawhinney's ringpiece in a minute."
Bob-haired Cod Almighty columnist Pete Green goes an interesting step further as he writes in to say: "It has been suggested that the Scottish Football Association be charged with bringing the game into disrepute for their endless fannying about over the no-brainer of whether the Division One champions should be allowed promotion to the SPL. With Division One in England being renamed The Football League Championship and Town starting next season in something called League Two, may I be the first to suggest that the English Football League be made to join their SFA counterparts in the dock?" Consider it suggested Pete, me old mate, and put me in the witness box for the prosecution.
The BBC website has decided that Grimsby's relegation is now incontrovertibly real, and has today put the club on its presumably soon-to-be-renamed Division Three page. The BBC Humber site can't be arsed to recycle any more Town gossip, and prefers to run on a story on a freak tidal wave that reportedly hit a Scunthorpe canal. Nuff said, I think – see yer.
Thursday 10 June
Failed Notts County striker and Majestyk nightclub-goer Tony Hackworth is said to figure strongly on Russell Slade's much-discussed list of potential new signings. Said by Slade himself, actually, if these second-hand reports about Radio Humberside interviews are anything to go by. As with other rumoured transfer targets Colin Cryan and Ashley Sestanovich, the player spent some time on loan with Slade's Scarborough side last season, scoring three goals. Hackworth began his career at Leeds, where his two or three brief Champions League appearances loomed less large than his acquittal of charges of affray, grievous bodily harm and conspiring to pervert the course of justice in connection with the violent beating of a young Asian man outside a city centre nightclub in January 2000. The player looked for a fresh start at Meadow Lane the following year, moving for £120,000, but came only to be regarded by many Magpies fans in much the same way their Grimsby counterparts now tend to think of, say, Murray Jones and Mickael Antoine-Curier.
The annual round of musical chairs that follows the arrangement of pre-season friendlies has kicked in, and having been left standing red-faced when the mighty Rotherham cancelled their trip to little Grimsby, Town have saved what little face remained by fixing up a kickabout with Scarborough on the same day. The Mariners head up the coast to Slade's old gaff on Tuesday 20 July, with Blundell Park hosting the usual, obvious, boring old fixtures against Scunthorpe and Willem II on 24 and 26 July.
Young Greg Young is "expected to" sign a new contract when he gets back off his holidays on Monday, trumpets Town's official website, hopefully not in the same way the Diary was "expected to" do well at A-level maths. Russ is "also optimistic that Graham Hockless will also sign a new deal soon," also adds the report also, but then again, the head of sixth form was optimistic that I'd get an A for it, let alone actually complete the course instead of dropping out after a year.
Wednesday 9 June
As a patriotic Diary, today's column would like to express its outrage at the misappropriation and desecration of the England flag for commercial purposes by the Nationwide Building Society, as seen on the introduction page of Town's official website.
You know how when you're waiting for a train and you can sometimes tell when it's coming because of that sort of pingy tingly sound that fizzes down the track a mile or two ahead of the loco? What do you mean 'no'? Next time, listen really carefully and... oh. You don't know what a train is. OK then. Anyway, the equivalent sonic phenomenon is a-happenin' on the high-speed rails of GTFC's official communications network: the OS is plugging the text message service, suggesting that Russell Slade's first new signings as Town manager may very shortly be approaching platform 1. "I think that there will be some news on the new player front very soon," teases Russ, playfully curling an imaginary lock of hair between two fingers.
Less importantly, the Diary has been given an unconfirmed whisper that Radio Humberside is reporting the departure from Blundell Park of Stuart Campbell and Darren Barnard, whose wage demands for new contracts are said to be beyond GTFC. Normally I wouldn't bother mentioning it until something appeared on the BBC Humber website, but for one thing the BBC Humber website seems to have completely given up covering Town, and for another there's chuff all else to talk about. Ooh, hang on – the Telegraph has got summat about it now... "Barnard... Campbell... take-it-or-leave-it offers... Slade only interested in players who genuinely want to play for the club." Well, they both made a lot of appearances for the club last season, but did anyone see them actually play? Would anyone be sad to see them go? No, thought not.
Tuesday 8 June
A few odds and sods from the club today. The new physiotherapy set-up at Grimsby College doesn't mean sponges will have to be helicoptered over from Bargate next season every time Macca collapses in a heap, as bald former Mariners defender Dave Moore will be on hand at BP to do a quick Florence Nightingale as and when. The Diary also understands that, starting in August, the college is also to take over the running of the Legends Bar, and if Grimsby students' drinking habits remain anything like they were in the Diary's day then fans can expect tempting special offers on pre-match pints of snakebite and black. Thirdly, season tickets are said by the club to be selling well. I know they say that every year, but the club is also claiming a great response to the new £50 kids' season ticket. "The vibes... have been incredibly positive," reports Town's official website, rolling a herbal cigarette on a Frank Zappa album.
Iffy Onuora has been released at the end of his short-term contract with Huddersfield. So he might come back to Town, eh? And speaking of possible transfer targets, Michael Green has flung a quick email this way on the subject of Colin Cryan, one of the Sheffield United triumvirate said by some to be tickling Mr Slade's tastebuds. The gloriously christened Ashley Sestanovich is not the only one of the three to have worked with our Russ previously, it appears, as Mike reveals: "Colin Cryan was on loan at Scarborough last season as well. He also played in the Chelsea game and looked very good. He is also an Irish u21 international." Ta for that, Mike, but I wouldn't set much store by Col's international status – I mean Daryl Clare was an Irish u21 international, and just look how much use he turned out to be... eh? What's that you say? Seventy-two goals in three seasons? Oh.
"My name is Aparna," writes Aparna Mehta, "and I work with the marketing team of iGlobalMedia, the Largest Online Gaming Business in the World. iGlobalMedia as a group owns and manages online Poker, Casino and Bingo rooms with PartyPoker.com (the World's Largest Poker Room), StarluckCasino.com, PlanetLuck.com & PartyBingo.com being our flagship brands." That's nice, Aparna. I bet your mum's dead proud. "I was going through your site codalmighty.com and wanted to discuss a possible marketing relationship with you. Could you please forward this mail to your Marketing Team and have someone get back to me (preferably with contact numbers) so that we can take this further?" We don't have a Marketing Team, I'm afraid, mate... but I don't suppose you've got any goss about who Russell Slade's after signing, have you? "We are looking at working on an affiliate or media buying relationship with you. I can be reached on the numbers mentioned below in my signature. I look forward to hear from you soon." Er, right. You know, you could just read this and save us all some time.
Monday 7 June
After emerging as one of the club's too few bright points of last season, young Mariners winger Graham Hockless showed recently that his grasp of the workings of modern football is as keen as his eye for goal when a story did the rounds in the media to the effect that Hull City wanted to sign him, despite Peter Taylor's protestations to the contrary. Oddly enough, this 'news' broke in the same week as Hockless demanded more money than Town were offering him with the new contract that was then on the table. Funny, that, eh. Anyroad, it's had the desired effect, as new manager Russell Slade reveals in today's Grimbo Telbo that "Graham has been offered a slight increase on his first offer." Slade "hopes to secure some new faces" this week, adds the paper, which sounds a bit Man in the Iron Mask; there's also a new contract for Greg Young if he wants it, and Phil Jevons, likewise, has only to sign his name for the chance to carry on winning player of the year awards for half a dozen decent games a season.
Those of you wishing to watch Jevons do just that and shuffle unconvincingly through the other 40 will doubtless have your eye on a season ticket. Guest Diary missed the announcement of next season's prices by scant seconds on Friday, but if you haven't already seen them then the tariff makes interesting reading. Regulars in the Upper Smiths can do their endless moaning and carping for just £304 next season, as opposed to £323 last, with matchday prices being cut from 17 to 16 notes (and from eight to six little quiddies for kiddies), and younger Town fans in particular have little excuse to let their youth go to waste, with a 'junior' season ticket cut from 75 to just 50 English pounds – one of the two or three cheapest such deals anywhere in the League. They don't know they're born, do they.
Thirdly today – it probably doesn't merit being a higher priority – the Diary is finally going to be arsed to mention the players Mr Slade has been alleged to be "set to swoop for" or "poised to capture", as crap writers are fond of putting it. If any credit is to be given to said whisperings then the oft-beaten path betwixt Blundell Park and Bramall Lane could soon be frequented again, as a trio of Blades feature strongly in current speculations. Colin Cryan and Danny Wood are a couple of random reserves, while frontman Ashley Sestanovich at least played on loan in Slade's Scarborough side last season, scoring three times in thirteen appearances. Despite Aidan Davison's obdurate insistence on not retiring, the name of Hartlepool's much loaned-out Welsh goalie Anthony Williams is also said to sit just above bread and baked beans on Russ's shopping list, though on what grounds is anyone's guess.
So there we are the other day, me and Mrs Diary, parking the car near my mum's house, when this Grimbarian in a West Ham shirt comes up and asks how long we intend leaving it there. Just overnight, I explain. We appear to be in front of his garden gates, and although there's no drive or garage, I ask him why, will he need to be using the gates or something? "No," says West Ham bloke, "I just want me car in front of me house like, if you can understand that." To which the answer is no, I can't. Why are people so territorial about their parking spaces in Grimsby? It's not like there's a shortage of them. Anyway, you know how you always think afterwards of what you should have said, when it's too late? What I should have said was: "Danny Butterfield had a good game the other week, didn't he?"
All of which indulgent anecdotery precedes an email from Michael Shelton on the subject of Mr Butterfield, the semi-farcical circumstances of whose transfer from GTFC to Crystal Palace we touched upon here last Thursday. "I remember reading at the time (that is the time Butterfield moved to Palace, and co-incidentally the time ITV Digital vanished) an interview with Groves (the then manager) in the paper," says Sir Mike. "And I take issue – they did know the rules about offering new contracts because I distinctly remember reading something along the lines of: to get any money for Danny we would have had to offer him a contract on at least the same amount as he was on before. Had we done this, he wouldn't have gone to Palace and got us some money; he would have signed the contract straight away and that would be the entire budget for new players next season spent already (due to the aforementioned ITV Digital fiasco)." There is that, I guess.
"PS," adds our correspondent, "clubbers in Yorkshire have taken to using dental syringes to inject ecstasy directly into their mouths. This dangerous practice has become known as E by gum. Ha ha!!" I quite like that, actually. The joke, I mean; E just gives me a headache.
Friday 4 June
Raarh… What's that noise I hear? Raarh… But surely it's too early in the year for that? The sighting, when it is made, however, is conclusive, and the tiny sound can be attributed to the inimitable Henman 'roar'. Tiger Tim is back, and your bored-as-hell guest diarist will be watching him get well and truly stuffed this afternoon as he takes on an Argie who really knows how to play tennis on clay. By the way, yesterday was, for Cod Almighty, like the opening night broadcast of BBC2 was for Corporation executives – a frustrating and embarrassing waste of bloody time. Not that we can be arsed to apologise, or even rattle on about 99 per cent uptime or owt. Shit happens, and then you die. OK? The good news, though, is that you will get a two-for-one on diaries when webmeister-extraordinaire Pete Green finally manages to teach that pesky ISP server the lesson it thoroughly deserves. That's reason number eighty-three to shop at Cod Almighty, for you northern readers.
Myself, I spent yesterday morning at a big building, full of doctors and nurses, learning that I have contracted Morton's neuroma. And the afternoon in the company of a very nice hippogriff named Buckbeak. A Beckham-like foot injury just a few weeks ahead of the pre-season friendlies means I face a lonely battle for fitness. A battle to be fought from a comfy chair in front of the telly, I suspect. But the bewildering array of digital TV channels these days means you really have to be on your toes. For example, I was very cheesed off when I realised that I had forgotten to watch the penalty-ridden Brazil v Argentina game on Bravo the other night. Time to give Uncle Rupert some more money and invest in Skyplus, I suppose. I gather you tell the box what you like and then it automatically records it for you. So, if I say Grimsby Town, Prince Far-I, and the wacky races then it will probably blow a digital gasket. More on that story later in the year, I suspect.
The club has announced its season ticket prices today for the next campaign. The emphasis, the official site tells us, is "on the younger supporter and family groups." However, at half-twelve, no sign of any prices yet. Trust me, though, it'll be cheap at half the price.
That extraordinary winger cum jellyfish, known to you and I as Kevin Donovan, has hit the news as he signs for relegated-to-the-conference York City. The City part of his new club nomenclature presumably led Kev to think that York is 'another' big club notch on his bedpost. The announcement made mention of 'personal problems' besetting Donovan, and preventing him playing at the end of last season. I'll resist the temptation to make a (another) cheap crack at this point. In case it's something really horrible and sad. Or because I can't think of one. One or the other anyway.
Much more importantly the Cod Almighty CAMRED campaign has finally borne fruit as the club is now stocking red socks. Back by demand, the shop claims – let us hope that demand extends to the Town first team next season. Of course, there is a horrible corporate sweatshop logo plastered all over the front of the said stockings. A sad, but predictable, sign of the times. However, momentarily extricating himself from a server deadlock, CAMRED founder Pete Green has wiped his hands on an oily rag and declared excitedly: "CAMRED members all over the world will be delighted with this news. Never mind the new physio set-up or Slade being the new Buckley – CAMRED applauds the club for recognising that red stockings are absolutely crucial to taking GTFC back where we belong: in Division One of the Football League and in the Premiership of Style." Right on, Pete. I'll leave you, gentle reader, with a link to a page that neatly shows the evolving Town strip over the last century or so and let you pick your own favourite. See yer.
Thursday 3 June
First up, apologies from the Cod Almighty team for the slightly eccentric behaviour of this website for the last few hours. Emergency server maintenance, apparently; and perhaps our web hosts could learn a lesson or two from the Mariners, because with the Blundell Park injury list having given GTFC the appearance over recent seasons of a lower-league Tottenham, the club has announced a complete overhaul of its physiotherapy set-up. My God, that's a quality link.
So Paul Mitchell has left after a decade of applying sellotape to the likes of Richard Smith and Alan Pouton; and Stacy Coldicott's groin will now be lovingly attended to by staff at Grimsby College's Bargate Fitness Suite. Town chairman John Fenty – sorry, I mean major shareholder – insists that the moves are not to save money, telling the Grimsby Telegraph (or This is North Scotland, or This is Cornwall, depending on its mood): "We aim to have the fittest side in the division next season." The Diary trusts entirely that the college's physiotherapy students are further advanced in their learning than that trainee barber out of The Simpsons is in his.
Contrary to earlier reports, Town young 'un David Soames, far from being released, has signed up for another year, with his excellently named comrade Ashley Hildred sticking his name down for six more months at the Theatre of Fish. "Soames is a young pacy striker with an eye for goal," explains the club's official website, "who made a scoring start on his first-team debut at Derby County a couple of seasons ago." That's 'debut' in the sense of 'fourth appearance', obviously.
Crystal Palace right-back Danny Butterfield is the focal point of a vitriolic letter to the Grimsby Telegraph from Stuart Rowson, once of this parish. The former Telegraph journo, who was banned from Blundell Park in 2003 over his part in the Ambulancegate scandal, has pointed out Danny's cracking display for Palace in the first division play-off final last weekend and reminded us that the player was allowed to leave on a free two years ago. I don't think it was so much that the Town hierarchy didn't rate him, as that they didn't know the rules about his new contract offer having to equal or better the terms of his old one, and he was bloody useless when Lennie Lawrence used to play him in central midfield. Still rubbish management at BP, but a different kind of rubbish management, maybe. You still reading, Stu? How's Hull?
Lastly today, CA's resident statto Andy Holt has put numbers aside for a while and turned to Dictionary Corner for his email to the Diary. "Many people consider that anagrams are a spooky indicator of personalities, circumstances or other such nonsense," writes New York City's biggest Mariners fan. "I don't, but thought I'd have a look at what I could make of our supposed new manager's name anyhow. And look what I came up with. Very apt given two successive relegations: U LESSER LADS." Now that gives the Diary something to fill the summer with...
Wednesday 2 June
Good afternoon, readers. It's that Miles Moss bloke here, stepping in for your usual Diary at very short notice. His net access is down, you see. That's 'down' in the sense that it's malfunctioning, rather than depressed. Or has been relegated. Or made out of duck feathers. Or 'with it' in a streetwise sense. What's that? Get on with it, you say? Um… ok.
Thing is, there's not actually much for me to get on with. The Papal-esque smoke has long cleared from the skies above Blundell Park, but there's still no sign of Pope Slade I turning his extensive list of players into real, actual, living and breathing players. Maybe he's spending all his time hunting houses; maybe nobody on his list is interested in playing for Grimsby; maybe I'm just being too damned impatient. After all, it's still not even a week since he took the helm. As it were.
Like Sven, though, I'm refusing to panic; it's just tricky watching other teams snap up all the players and wondering who we'll be left with. Michael Keane has gone to Hull; the salacious-sounding Jevons-to-Kiddy rumour picks up pace; even Lee McEvilly has signed for Accrington Stanley. Yeah, alright, the first two may only be useful for three games a season, and I'm only interested in the last one cos he used to score 40 a season for me in Championship Manager, but y'know… I just can't wait. There are names a-plenty of potential signings on messageboards here and there, but that's sheer speculation; meanwhile the Grimblesby Tellergraff is teasing me with a link to this page entitled "Boss could make a Handy move", but then refuses to display it. I can only assume that Slade is thinking of signing cheeky Cockney joiner 'Handy' Andy 'Handy Andy' Kane off of the telly to fix up the main stand a bit. Or something.
So, no transfer news on the OS, but those messageboarders among you may be interested to know that it is giving you the chance to pose questions to John Fenty. It's going to be interesting to see how he diplomatically answers such in-depth posers as "WHY DINT U GIV THE MANAGAER JOB 2 HOOLIAY HES OUT OF WORK YOU GOT NO AMBISHUN Y DON’T U KWIT". Maybe I'm being unkind. They probably know how to spell Houllier.
Well, I'm sure you'll agree that I've waffled on about absolutely nothing for long enough now. No news is, of course, good news, so, er… hurray. Or something. This isn't fair. I bet loads happens tomorrow, and Diary gets to report it all. I'm off for a sulk. Tra!
Tuesday 1 June
Russell Slade talked the talk pretty well after becoming Town's new manager last week, and now he is beginning to perambulate the hike as well. The former Scarborough boss has told the Grimsby Telegraph he is already househunting in the area after putting his old gaff up for sale as soon as he got the Town job. "My house has gone up for sale within 24 hours of agreeing to come here," announces Slade. "That's part of my commitment to the club." Comments from John Fenty, who seems to be doing all the interviews right now instead of Peter Furneaux, suggest that he knows what makes the locals tick. "Grimsby people have been used to seeing a sleeves-rolled-up mentality and true commitment at the club," says the anticipated next GTFC chairman. "That has been missing over the last two seasons. The fact that Russell wanted to move to Grimsby was very important in the selection process." As Russ does the rounds of Jackson Green & Preston et al, then, the Diary senses a reality TV opportunity: one involving Kirstie Allsopp, and preferably also a large tub of chocolate ice cream.
Craig Oman, meanwhile, has emailed again with another snippet of background information about the new man at the helm, which he forgot to include last Friday. "My mate Dom, who works here and is a Forest fan, says that Slade was his PE teacher at school and was 'a sadistic bastard who made us do cross country all the time!!'" writes Craig. Well, here's hoping he can take a similarly tough approach with the idle sods among his new charges, eh.
As reported by Guest Diary last Friday, Town have landed a friendly against Willem II on 26 July. Your regular Diary, meanwhile, is still perplexed by the announcement of this fixture on the club's official website, which reveals: "The Dutch side have been league champions on three occasions," but adds: "The 1998-99 season was the most successful ever for Willem II. The club ended second in the league." With Blundell Park staff adopting success criteria like that, the Mariners' league form over the past two seasons begins to make slightly more sense.
Former GTFC transients Richard Hughes, Danny Coyne and John 'The Jackal' Oster have all been in international action in the run-up to their countries not appearing in Euro 2004, and Miles Moss has emailed the Diary to point out a BBC report on Wales' emphatic 1-0 win over the mighty Canada at the weekend. "At the other end, Wales were fortunate to survive two fluffed clearance
kicks from Danny Coyne, both rebounding away from the Leicester keeper's goal," reports the Beeb. "Hahahahaha," adds Miles.
Finally today, a call for questions. The estimable Mr Paul Thundercliffe, who has already interviewed Peter Furneaux and John Tondeur for this website in recent months, is soon to be taking tea with former Grimsby Telegraph football writer Nigel Lowther and John 'Blimey!' Moore, commentary hero of Town's end-of-season highlights videos. Paul would like to hear from Diary readers with any questions you may like him to put to these personages, so email email@example.com with, er, any questions you may like him to put to these personages.