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Diary - June 2005
Thursday 30 June
Can you lend me a blunt knife? A trowel? How about a dessertspoon? Anything will do as long as I can scrape the bottom of a barrel with it.
"We are looking to bring in three or four more signings," Mr Russell Slade has told Town's official website. Given that he said the other week that he wanted a squad of 20 players and that he now has 16, I might as well jack this Diary lark in now and go backpacking in Uruguay.
Tonight the Mariners are going to "play Grimsby Town Cricket Club in what promises to be an entertaining evening", says Town's official website, tempting fate if not the Trades Description Act. Barbecue, autographs, Augusta Street cricket ground, half past six. Whether the game is cricket, football, or some peculiar hybrid thereof, we know not or indeed whether Russ's men are "playing Grimsby Town Cricket Club" to brush up their thespian skills in a bid to win a few more penalties next season.
Stacy Coldicott is training with GTFC but still won't be staying with the club. Quite nice of the club to let him train with them, in the circumstances, wouldn't you say. That lanky ginger kid we had on loan off Brentford last year has signed for Yeovil. Wow.
That entirely unremarkable sequence of news items is followed by an entirely remarkable sequence of words: namely "thank heavens for Dan Humphrey". Dan has broken up the tedium of today's headlines by emailing the Diary about Town's forthcoming League Cup tie at Derby; or specifically, about a quote from Rams boss Phil Brown in the Derby Evening Telegraph. ''If we lost in the first round of both cup competitions and got out of the Championship nothing would give me greater pleasure," said Phil, possibly giving Town more respect that they're due. "Does that include getting relegated?!" asks DH. "Even if it doesn't, what a strange thing to say I'd rather get knocked out of the cups than win them? Nothing would give me greater pleasure than
winning the lottery, end to world poverty... no, just promotion this season would do?!" They're a strange lot, football managers and if nothing floats Phil's boat better than the prospect of demotion to the third division then it's Mrs Brown I feel sorry for.
John Pakey is another Diary reader who has mercifully emailed with some entertaining news from another club, this time Colchester, who are advertising on their official website for a supporter with carpet fitting skills to drop by Layer Road and install some new astroturf free of charge. "And I thought Grimsby Town must be running a tight ship with the taxman knocking at the door," writes JP. "This is ridiculous. Wonder if Aidan Davison could manage it?" After the season before last, John, I'm not sure I'd trust his grip
meanwhile, are there any Town fans out there who have a couple of hours spare every Saturday for nine months of the year and boast proven skills in motivational speaking?
I'm going to sleep until Monday.
Wednesday 29 June
Today's football has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
"They are associated with death and destruction on tropical shores, but the Humber coastline could be hit by a tsunami, according to a Government report." As usual, though, the Grimsby Telegraph is just getting its kicks out of scaring you shitless, as the story that threatens this climatological catastrophe is soon obliged by that pesky journalistic requirement for accuracy to grudgingly admit that if a tsunami were to strike the Central Promenade up Meggies then "the height of the waves would not be much higher than the storm surges which already batter the Yorkshire and Humber coast". Booo! Sort it Neptunes!
It's not all bad news for fans of Old Testament-style watery destruction, though, as a study by University College London has revealed that Grimsby stands a one in 20 chance of being completely swallowed up by the North Sea during the next 200 years, as climate change melts the global icecaps and pushes up sea levels. So keep on driving them SUVs, folks, and sooner or later all the sadness and pain in our lives will be washed away with Blundell Park.
Tuesday 28 June
As befits a side that finished not far off the bottom of the entire league last season, the Mariners were unseeded going into today's League Cup draw cunningly timed at seven o'clock in the morning to catch the early sports bulletins before anything more interesting happened. The seeding system is, you understand, in no way designed to ensure an easier passage for bigger clubs and is actually all about creating mouth-watering potential banana skins stuffed with fresh cream and flaked chocolate, and that's exactly what it's done in handing Town a visit to second division Derby on the evening of Wednesday 24 August. The fact that there'll be about the same number of fans there as there would be if it had been played at Blundell Park is, of course, neither here nor there.
GTFC are giving a trial to a player who is not African; nor has he just been released on a free transfer by Scunthorpe United. Anthony Doherty is a 19-year-old English midfielder who has just been released on a free transfer by Bradford City, and he is chancing his arm with the Mariners, or more accurately his leg, after having failed to earn a professional contract at Valley Parade. Indeed, his career to date appears to have been a singularly unspectacular one, judging by his Q&A session with Bantams website Boy From Brazil, in which he is asked: "What has been your biggest buzz in football so far?" and replies: "Don't know." Welcome to Blundell Park, Anthony.
Town's recent acquisition of Paul Bolland from fourth division rivals Notts County has led to a minor outbreak of what can only be described as hoo-hah, possibly accompanied by a small degree of kerfuffle. The Diary thought the 'Pies had just released him on a free, but Bolland has apparently had a bit of a go at his old club for not keeping him in the picture as to the possibility of a new contract, and County have now hit back in the gentlest possible way, saying he was getting paid by them until the end of July, and their manager was getting back off holiday on 23 June, so there was, ooh, loads of time to sort summat out, but if you wanna go off with them fishy types then that's your lookout, matey. Bolland's other half is having a babby this summer, as well, so he wanted to get things sorted out. I wonder if they're moving over to Grimsby, or whether Russ has dropped that stipulation in the light of bitter experience. And 25 is quite young to have a little 'un these days, isn't it? Possibly not in Grimsby though, where Wayward Cousin Diary had had three by the time she missed all her GCSEs.
Anyway. Thanks Pat.
Monday 27 June
Writing the Diary is like waiting for a bus. There's nothing to report for ages, and then three buses all turn up at once. Heh! Oh.
The first of these elusive number 45s terminating at Immingham Docks is the signing of Tom Newey, whose chief claim to fame appears to be that there is a foot at the end of his left leg. A former trainee with former big club Leeds, the Sheffield-born 22-year-old seems to have been OK on loan with Cambridge and Darlington before signing for Leyton Orient in 2003, where he undoubtedly scored three times in 34 league starts before definitely returning to Cambridge for the last few months of the season just ended. He has signed a one-year contract with the Mariners. Cambridge? Don't panic Town's official site is at pains to assure us that it was in spite of, rather than because of, Newey's presence that the Us finished bottom of the league and may slip out of existence altogether any day now. Nobody seems too certain possibly not even the player himself whether he's a left-back, left winger, or left wing-back, but he's probably better in all three positions than Simon Ramsden.
The big transfer talk over the weekend, though, was that Joe 'Three Million Quid' Lightowler has signed for Bridlington Town. No, hang on, that's not right either. Mr Russell Slade is about to offer contracts to two African midfielders who had recently been trading their ply in the French first division. Yeah, that's it. One is 23-year-old Makhtar N'Diaye, allegedly a Senegal international, lately of Sedan and Rennes (ooh - eight goals in 58 appearances); the other is Jean-Paul Kamudimba, apparently, who is 22 and Congolese, didn't really break through at Nice and nearly signed for Hearts a bit ago. Would you like a pinch of salt with that?
The third omnibus in our tightly bunched convoy of public service vehicles takes the shape of Wayne Graves, who in common with the recently signed and almost forgotten Terry Barwick is a midfielder released by Scunthorpe who played no part in their recent promotion to the third division but was a regular when they nearly dropped out of the league. Graves has joined the Mariners on trial, but let's try and keep an open mind, though, eh. After all, the Diary always looks over relegated squads in Football Manager to see if there's any juicy pickings worth scavenging from the wreckage. I'm infamous for it, in fact. They call me the Hyena. The 'The Hyena' Diary. I don't actually eat the discarded flesh of animals already slaughtered by larger predators, mind. It's a metaphor. So yeah, anyway, Barwick, Graves and Newey might be really good. Or at the very least, they might taste nice with a bit of barbecue sauce.
So, the Town squad have gone on that boot camp thing today, where they will doubtless be thrashed to within an inch of their lives by a sadistic drill sergeant, in ideal preparation for next season's visit to the Deva Stadium. And speaking of football and extreme violence, the Mariners have added Blackburn Rovers to their list of pre-season opponents one hesitates to use the word 'friendly' where Blackburn Rovers are concerned and will take on the Premiership bruisers at Blundell Park on Tuesday 2 August, thus ensuring an instant injury crisis in time for the first game of the season four days later.
Great news for Mariners fans with no lives! Two of next season's home games have already been switched from Saturday afternoons to Friday nights, allowing you to watch Russ's battlers take on Stockport on Friday 2 September, go home to bed, get up and watch England's World Cup qualifier against Wales the following afternoon, do some other stuff, watch Russ's plucky underachievers face Wycombe on Friday 7 October, go home to bed, and then get up and watch England's World Cup qualifier against Austria the afternoon after that. Interaction with other human beings is not compulsory.
Friday 24 June
At last, the news football supporters have been waiting for all summer. Liverpool have drawn TNS of Wales in the first qualifying round of the European Cup. Hi there by the way. Last But Not Least Diary here while the other stand-ins fight to save the planet.
If you choose to support your local team (and if you don't you can stop reading) there's news of a cup your team is participating in, all forms returned and properly completed pending. The north/south division of the draw makes sense, if only to stop the likes of Norwich complaining about spending valuable time on the road to somewhere far away like Boston. But seeding? Sounds like a way to give Championship teams a greater chance of pulling a "big club" and "away day pay day". Or give false hope to one exiled fan who live near to close to Burnley and Preston. Got me thinking. Are there any non-London based fans out there who have more than two seeded grounds within easy striking distance? Is your level of anticipation or dread that much higher? I'm sure the Diary won't object if you let him know.
650 season ticket sales have the club declaring the "going extremely well." All this talk of making more money quicker and breaking previous records - wasn't that inevitable by raising the price of the season tickets? Still not too much for 650 souls willing to be tortured from August until next May. Dedicated fans for you. Good on you. Or dimwits who think 300 quid for a polo shirt with the odd day at the local shit-hole of a ground as a bargain. Or just misguided full stop. I wish I could join you, but the traveling prevents me. I will make at least ten home games could the club not sell "flexi tickets" like Boston are?
Speaking of talking heads stop making sense, a quick flit to the messageboards. (Quiet news day.) There's a new signing due. Newsflash! Not going to start the season with a midfield of Bolland, Parkinson and my hero Tony Crane nor a squad of fifteen first-teamers are we? Usual nuggets of Alan Pouton and John Oster are being branded about. Shame Nicky Southall has just joined Nottingham Forest. He could have been useful.
There is some news of a big move to Grimsby, but we're just talking a seafood company. Hopefully uplifting news for the local economy. ""There is no doubt as far as fish is concerned this is where the action is." Take note those seeded big fish in the league cup.
Henman crashing out of Wimbledon (albeit not like the porcelain players in the BBC trailer). England losing to Australia. Town signing players. The fixtures being announced. It's starting to feel like summer now. All that is needed are rain clouds, in the meteorological rather than metaphorical sense. Dazzling mornings like this remind me of the scintillating day heading up to Darlington for last season's opener. A referential point for most of the season, a game we dominated, should have won but didn't. A chap called Ian Clark came on, scored, game over. (Not enough to warrant a new contract for the lad. He's moved on.) The drive across England reminded me of my younger days cruising the roads of Lincolnshire (not Yorkshire). My point? I'm not alone when it comes to being reminded of 'our county' as a quick flick through a book in my office revealed. "Oh deary me, I thought, I'm on the wrong jet. The pilot's gone mad. We've been flying around in circles for eleven hours. That's not Texas. That's Lincolnshire. For as far as the eye could see - and from 15,000 feet on a crystal-clear day, that's a very long way indeed - it was flat, unrelenting and dull beyond even the ken of a party political broadcast speech-writer." Can you guess whose flat, unrelenting and dull writings these were? A hint - the back sleeve notes more on "foxes, 70's rock music, Germans, cricket and everything else in the The World According to" this man. And it's not Garp. A prize to the first person to guess it right by emailing in.
Upon which is time to call it a day and load the golf clubs into the car for an afternoon round, before the rains descends and it really does feel like summer. Thanks for reading.
Thursday 23 June
The Mariners will begin next season with more than one midfielder on the books after all now that Notts County's Paul Bolland has signed a two-year contract at Blundell Park. The player becomes the second ex-Magpie in two days to flutter to North East Lincs in pursuit of Russell Slade's shiny things after the acquisition yesterday of Steve Mildenhall, though Bollands, as he is sure to be shortly rechristened, has a longer association with Meadow Lane, having joined from Bradford in 1999 and scored seven goals in around 180 appearances. If you hadn't already surmised the same from his seven goals in around 180 appearances, and from his description on Town's official website as "hardworking", "committed" and "never-say-die", 25-year-old Paul is being signed to replace Stacy Coldicott in the strong defensive midfield role rather than Thomas Pinault in the creative attacking midfield role. Whether there still is a creative attacking midfield role in the GTFC line-up remains to be seen, particularly given that the club's only other central player, Scunthorpe cast-off Terry Barwick, was also described as "combative with a good engine" when he joined the other week.
But never mind about that, because today is the most exciting day of the summer the day the fixtures are announced for next season and the big news you've all been waiting for is that Town will play 46 league games in the 200506 campaign against 23 opponents at home and away. The first of these is not against Torquay but Oxford, at home on Saturday 6 August, while at the end of the same month the Mariners are penned in for a mouth-watering bank holiday fixture against fierce local rivals Rushden & Diamonds. The New Year holiday programme sees another traditional derby clash against nearby Carlisle, while Lincolnshire neighbours Leyton Orient make the short journey to Blundell Park on Easter Monday.
Followers of Knut Anders Fostervold's cycling career will note with interest that the former Mariners left-back has achieved a number three position in the Norwegian championship, his performance topped only by a couple of guys who featured in last season's Tour de France. "If he had started some years ago I think he would had been in France with us," said one of them, Thor Hushovd. If only.
Two Diary readers have already emailed on the hot topic of Steve Mildenhall's forthcoming nickname, and Mark Stilton suggests all we have a guess at the moniker soon to be affixed by the new keeper's teammates and manager and then revealed in a hilarious interview exclusive to Mariners World. "Will it be Milds, or Mildo?" asks Mark. "Both are quite comical. Or perhaps the rank outsider: Mildeno." Phil Watson, meanwhile, asks: "Mildenhall? Isn't that an RAF base? We really are going to be playing aerial football next season aren't we?" before raising the stakes in the nickname sweepstake by declaring: "If he's not nicknamed 'Mildred' by October, then I'm Menno Willems." Schtop! Thiss nickname izh not ready.
"I must protest at the Diary's request for readers 'who have had Sir Elt's pleasure' to email in," writes Mark Wilson, retired army major, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. "I am not homophobic and I believe all of us should 'live and let live' but CA is about football and not homoerotica. If any of your readers do want to discuss homoerotica they should go to the OS and liven up the messageboard there, which currently appears to be the forum for mud slinging between 12-year-olds. Toodle-pip!" You know what they say about homophobes, don't you, Major Mark? That's right: they're all gagging to take it very hard up the arse.
Over to John Pakey next. "Good to see the legends are still involved," he writes, forwarding a link to the Non-League Daily which brings us up to date with the mighty Paul Futcher's latest activities at Ashton United. "Give him a few year, maybe he could be a hit for the Mariners again?" suggests John. "Yes I am killing time before I clock off my shift today." Which, by a stunning coincidence, now seems to be exactly what Brian Laws was doing with the Mariners before he managed Scunthorpe. In fact, hadn't Futch applied for the Town job when Laws got it? Spooky.
Anyway, folks, that's it from your regular Diary for another week, but forget ye not to come back tomorrow for Friday's traditional guest outpourings. I'm off to drink iced tea in a cold bath.
Wednesday 22 June
Next season's goalkeeping duties at Blundell Park appear to be finalised with the signing today on an extravagant two-year contract of the former Swindon and Notts County gloveman Steve Mildenhall. Though seemingly prone to just the occasional Williams-esque slip, six-foot-five Steve seems to be generally well thought of by fans of his previous clubs, and was unlucky enough to bust his hand while playing for Oldham last year and then get kept out of the side by an Australian called Les Pogliacomi. Highlights of the player's career so far include scoring what turned out to be the winning goal in County's 4-3 derby triumph at Mansfield in August 2001, with a goal kick taken just inside his own area, and an outstanding performance on his full league debut: a 1-0 win for Swindon at Portsmouth in 1997 which left Mildenhall requiring stitches in his testicles following a collision with another player. All of which is great news for the Mariners, because if there's one thing apart from ITV Digital that Town fans can justifiably blame for their club's appalling recent slide down the divisions, it's the acquisition of players who couldn't give a bollock for the team.
The Diary enjoyed yesterday. Quite aside from the weather being a bit cooler, it's a rare pleasure for me to be the first GTFC-dedicated news source to break a story in this case that Ronnie Bull had signed for New Zealand Knights not to mention watching Town's official website trail in my glorious wake by repeating it later. Today the OS has obligingly probed the possibility that Graham 'The Hair' Hockless would be following Bull to the A-League next season, and the answer is: probably not. "I'm just weighing up my options at the minute," the handsome young winger told the site, hoping to give the impression that his failed loan spell at Leigh RMI last season has not dissuaded a host of wealthy, top-flight English, Italian, Australian and Qatari clubs from deluging him with lucrative contract offers. Rumour reaches the Diary, meanwhile, that Graham's move abroad has actually been held up by an incomplete visa application form. When he couldn't find a box that said 'just weighing up my options', the player allegedly left the 'marital status' section blank rather than tick the box marked 'single'.
When he's not trying to become a fireman there's nothing Stacy Coldicott enjoys more than the odd bit of professional football. After turning down the presumably piss-poor terms on offer to prolong his spell with the Mariners, the club's second longest serving player is rumoured to be considering a move back to his native midlands with Hereford United of the Conference. We know this because it says so on Town's official website. We don't know how they know, though. Or at least the Diary doesn't. I do know that Hereford coach John Trewick was at West Brom at the same time as Stace. But so were lots of other people, probably.
Faced with a selection of applicants for their vacant manager's position that included two of the least popular men at Blundell Park this century, second division Millwall have rejected the one who is unpopular for a good reason, Lennie Lawrence, and appointed the one for whom Grimsby fans seem to have constructed an antipathy from thin air: Steve Claridge. I guess we won't be seeing him for a while to pursue it, though.
Keith Wivell has emailed the Diary to further the burning issue of rock star Reg Dwight's appearances at Blundell Park in his capacity as chairman of Watford Football Club. "Has Elton sat in the Town boardroom twice?" asks Keith Wivell in an email to the Diary. "I only ask because in about 1985 I met him there! I am fairly certain it was a cup game between Town and Watford on a Saturday afternoon and the company my dad worked for sponsored the game so we had VIP tickets. Elton signed my programme. I recall Town were winning 1-0 at half time and went on to win oh, no, sorry lose 3-1. The Watford destroyer was one Jimmy Gilligan, who so clearly impressed the management that we bought him, didn't we?" We did and thanks for sharing, sir; any other Diary readers who have had Sir Elt's pleasure are urged to email without delay. "Meeting Elton did not make up for the defeat," adds Keith, unnecessarily.
A further email this way comes from Cod Almighty's gifted resident poet Al Wilkinson. "I'm a bit bored, I have that rarest of things a little spare time so I'll stand for the defence of the OS," explains Al. "Perhaps in their headline Aiston Set For Town U-Turn they actually meant the player himself and his own renewed attitude toward the, now beloved, Mariners is the U-turn; a reversal of mind, or a U-bend in the brain, if you will." Point taken, Mr W. Although only a poet could be so alive to the fluidity of language, in all fairness I really ought to have better things to do with my life than make fun of Grimsby Town FC's official website for writing misleading headlines.
But if I don't find any in the next 24 hours, I'll see you all again tomorrow lunchtime.
Tuesday 21 June
Welcome to the Diary School of Journalism. Today: headlines. The first and most important thing to remember when writing a headline is that it must accurately reflect the content of the story. This may sound obvious, but sometimes, it would seem, it needs to be pointed out. Today, for instance, the official website of Grimsby Town FC is running a story headlined Aiston Set For Town U-Turn? This suggests, does it not, that the story will raise the possibility of Aiston (Sam Aiston, a lower-league professional footballer) taking a u-turn that relates to Town (reversing his earlier decision to reject a transfer to Grimsby Town FC). The central message of the story, however, is precisely the opposite that Aiston is in fact not set for a Town u-turn since it quotes the manager of Grimsby Town FC, Russell Slade, to that effect: "We definitely wont [sic.] be renewing our interest in the player." Any questions? No? Good. Tomorrow: use of the apostrophe.
Well, after trials with Southend and Wycombe we all got the impression that Ronnie Bull would be leaving the Mariners for a southern club, but few could have expected that he'd go for one quite so southern as this. Town's latest substandard left-back has, it seems, thrown in his lot with New Zealand Knights in time for the beginning of the A-League, which kicks off its first season at the end of August. Remembering the antipodean intentions of another recent Town player, and as a great fan of classic comedy, the Diary is prepared to pay big money for any video footage of Ronnie up against Graham Hockless next season.
Affluent supporters who have shelled out 300-odd quiddies on a season ticket but still have currency scorching an aperture in their trouser storage facility have been given a new opportunity to contribute towards replacements for Messrs Bull and Hockless. In a cunning new twist on the 'auction a place in the squad' ruse borrowed by the Mariners the other year, the club is now offering for sale to the highest bidders not one place in next season's playing squad but three places in next season's team photo. With this likely to raise more cash than before, the club's programme editor saved the hassle of remembering to put the winners' names in the squad list, and Cod Almighty excused the nightmare of trying to publish player profiles for non-players, it's a win-win-win situation!
Monday 20 June
Strictly speaking, it is the temporary place or state of the souls of the just who, although purified from sin, were excluded from the beatific vision until Christ's triumphant ascension into Heaven (the 'limbus patrum'); or to the permanent place or state of those unbaptised children and others who, dying without grievous personal sin, are excluded from the beatific vision on account of original sin alone (the 'limbus infantium' or 'puerorum'). Rather less strictly speaking, it could also be described as telling Grimsby you'll sign for them, then welching on it to sign for Darlington instead, but then failing to agree terms. If you had to choose which of these definitions of limbo better applies to the situation of Sam Aiston, you'd probably go for the latter, since his move to the Safecracker Stadium very much seems to have broken down, and the player is now believed to be in negotiations with the manager of FC Hades over the terms of a permanent, not to say eternal, contract.
With Lennie Lawrence in charge of the Mariners' tactics, the year 2001 was very much a space odyssey as far as Town's defence was concerned. Perhaps no player had a greater role in this unsatisfactory state of affairs than Knut Anders Fostervold, sold to GTFC fans as "the fourth best left-back in Norway" and no more effective than Tony Gallimore at preventing the cream of the second division inflicting tremendous destruction upon his side from that side of the pitch. Yes. Anyway, thanks to the redoubtable Norwegian Mariners website Jailhouse Rock, we now know that Knut has retired with an injury and swapped his football shorts for the tighter variety worn by cyclists. "In a stamina test a month ago he got better results than Tour de France rider Thor Hushovd!" reports the site. Fozzie explains: "I was rated invalid for sports when I retired," although it might not be unfair to suggest that many Town fans had already rated him invalid for sports some time beforehand.
Food news from Europe's food town now, and Christopher Parrott has emailed the Diary to clear up the mystery surrounding "early evening lunch", that mysterious meal promised by GTFC as part of their forthcoming golf day thing. "This is of course a repast enjoyed by students in the days when the Government actually paid you to study instead of the other way round," explains CP. "Now that bright young things have to pay, they take the whole getting up in the mornings to attend lectures, seminars etc far too seriously. The death of the maintenance grant has meant a much less flexible approach to mealtimes. Maybe this is something Honest John Fenty can learn from save on the wage bill and increase commitment by charging people to play." I'm sure you can count on the support of Glen Downey for that one, Chris.
"No recollection of Mr Botham at BP," writes Nick Meaney, a Mariner exiled in the zombified hell that is Docklands, and I have to admit I wondered what he was going on about for five minutes, until I remembered Guest Diary mentioning the self-obsessed right-wing former England cricket all-rounder last week. "However... perhaps you've mentioned this elsewhere, but back around 1970-ish, one windswept midweek match between the Mariners and Watford was graced by the presence of Elton John in the directors' box (oo-er missus). I remember that me and my other little mates from Clee Grammar (Carl and Rich) had lots of fun pointing, shouting, and running. As you do. This was a couple of years before Saint Elton penned his ode 'Grimsby' - a little-known track on his little-known Caribou album. And he didn't write it anyway: it was that Bernie Whatsit from near Louth who did all his lyrics. Love the website." Thanks very much Nick; it's nice to hear from you. If you're new around these parts then give this page and this page a go...
Friday 17 June
They couldn't get anyone to write today's Diary, so it's your regular Diary pressed back into service this Friday lunchtime, like a 48-year-old goalkeeping coach hastily registered as a player to cover a sudden injury crisis. Hello! My feet are killing me.
We've had Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day and Valentine's Day, and they've even tried Grandparents' Day; but today, ladies and gentlemen, is Jamie Day. Rather than encouraging everyone you know called Jamie to feel mortally wounded if you don't spend pots of cash buying them things they don't need, however, Jamie Day is a 19-year-old midfielder with Welling United of the Conference South, and the reason he is of concern to us at this point in the history of the human species is that Russell Slade apparently wants him to be a 19-year-old midfielder with Grimsby Town of the fourth division instead. The story is that Barnet (also now of the fourth division) were after him as well but ended their interest when Welling, not unreasonably given that the player still has a year on his contract, said they'd want a fee for him. Money is clearly no object to the big-spending Mariners, though, as the player's agent (Conference South players have agents?) has told Murdoch Sports: "Russell Slade at Grimsby is keen... I think he's been talking to Jason Crowe, who was with Jamie at Arsenal, as a reference." So as long as Welling don't want more than £5,000 and the reference isn't "Yeah, it's great, you can spend half the year injured and the other half just running around five yards away from the ball every now and then", we should be fine.
Staying daaaahn saaaaaarf for the moment, 'ere, can yer look after the stall fer a minute? You bleeeedin' toe-raaaahg! And you could knock me daaaahn wiv a fevvah if Ronnie Bull isn't a perfect name for an Eastenders character. The Mariners left-back whose supporters would best describe his approach as enthusiastic is, remarkably, being linked by the Saaaaaarfend Evening Echo with a move to promoted Saaaaaarfend, his recent trial at Wycombe having presumably come to nought. If all else fails, Ronnie, then Johnny Allen's always on the lookout for a young fella who can handle himself.
Another former Town left-back, except this time one who was good, Gary Croft, might be staying at Cardiff after all, reports BBC Sport. The one-time electronic taggee was released by former Bluebirds boss Lennie Lawrence that's former Bluebirds boss Lennie Lawrence at the end of last season but was told he might get a new deal if he could prove his fitness, but has now been told, er, he might get a new deal if he can prove his fitness. Well, that was a waste of space, wasn't it.
I have received about 54 kapillion emails from you lot about fish and chip shops. Too many, in fact, to run in the Diary. So we're going to do something else with them. Watch this space. For the moment we will restrict ourselves to Keith Falla, if that doesn't sound a little uncomfortable either for us or him, who writes: "Martyn Wyburn is correct when he says no-one working at Grimsby Fisheries, Leicester, knows where Grimsby is. Yorkshire was the reply I was given. I really had to educate the girl who was serving!" I wonder if we should send them a T-shirt. Keith continues: "There is a fish van that trundles around the Wigston area claiming to sell Grimsby fish. Otherwise Leicester is bereft of any notable fish emporiums. If you want a curry, I have to admit, you have to come to Leicester." Uh-oh. I now declare these floodgates officially open.
Staying in Leicestershire, which is a shame because there aren't any easily-parodied BBC television soap operas based there, and I don't know how you'd transcribe a comedy Leicestershire accent anyway, we have an email from Loughborough Mariner on the subject of Town's latest fund-raising entertainment gubbins. I wasn't going to mention it, because golf is, of course, utterly evil; but I can't very well avoid it now. "Just reading about the golf day on the OS," writes Loughborough, "and noticed that you get an 'early
evening lunch' thrown in for your £50. What's one of them when it's at home?" Candour compels me to confess, mate, that I haven't got a bastard clue. A baguette at six o'clock? "I'm just off for my late afternoon breakfast," concludes Loughborough in befuddlement. Email email@example.com if you work for Town's official website and can bring clarification on this important issue or indeed if you don't work for Town's official website and you just want to take the piss.
Bye! Have a nice weekend!
Thursday 16 June
As Frank Zappa once put it so memorably: Woke up too early; it was a terrible mistake. He went on to sing about horribly foreshortened cornflakes and then ended up as the minister for culture in what was Czechoslovakia. Well actually, he ended up dead to be pedantic. What will happen to your Guest Diarist is anyone's guess but he was thinking about Nigel Batch in the cold grey light of dawn today. Nigel (for any younger readers) was a great keeper for Town in the early eighties. But I seem to remember him having a parallel career as a decent local cricketer. Are goalies forced to be wicket keepers, I wonder? Although footballers don't warm up for the match with a game of tip'n'run very often, it seems that cricketers like nothing better than to start off with a kickabout. The (admittedly very old) news that professional cricketers lost a total of 164 playing days to footballing ailments is presented to you, gentle reader, as a sort of philosophical thought for the day. Yes, you've guessed it; Town news is thin on the ground at the moment.
So it's a good job that I didn't finish reporting all the stories yesterday, being able now to report that the second Grimsby snubee was in fact Imps defender Kevin Sandwith who has verbally agreed to stay with Lincoln. Of more interest to me was this telling quote from Keith Alexander who said of Matt Bloomer: "Matt, meanwhile, is one of those players who everybody wants in their squad. He is a good pro who can play in a variety of positions and will do you a job whichever position you ask him to play in. I'm very happy these two players have agreed new deals and want to be part of what we are trying to achieve next season." Bloomer was a great squad player at Town can anyone remember the slightest reason why we let him go? It seems to me that Town bring on youngsters, let them go, and then end up signing young released players from other clubs who are probably much more of an unknown quantity. And who have no affinity with the club. What is wrong with this picture?
Meanwhile Mr Slade has had a chat with the official site reporters and told the little scamps his feelings about the story linking him with loyal Southend keeper Darryl Flahavan: "It is a load of rubbish and I haven't had any interest." So there. In fact, goes on Slade, talking about his real goalkeeping target: "He is on holiday at the moment but that should all be going through on the fax. He has experience and with John Lukic that would be a relief for us to get that position sorted out." But what number does he bat, Russell?
Going back to cricket and the Nigel Batch era, am I right in remembering seeing Ian Botham standing in the open corner twixt Pontoon and Barrett watching us play Scunthorpe one time? I was rarely sober in those days but that memory stubbornly persists. Let me know if you were there. Tomorrow will see another guest diarist you may be relieved to hear. Let's hope they are able to share some good news like, oh er, Stacy's signed! See yer.
Wednesday 15 June
Evenin' all. Your Guest Diarist is listening to a rather sad remake of Dixon of Dock Green on Radio 4 just now. So far I can report that Andy Crawford sounds impossibly young, and the villains are not very good at sneering on the radio. However, gentle reader, make sure that you follow Sergeant Dixon's rule and never make your tea with stale water. Speaking of which, I expect that ace match reporter Tony Butcher's head has been spinning since the news that those grumpy old Floydsters are getting back together this summer. But as you cannot recreate 1950s London, I suspect you also can't recreate 1970s prog rock. In fact I can vouch for this, having just bought the new Van der Graaf Generator album which isn't a patch on the best of their early stuff. To end this paragraph on a more optimistic note, though, might I suggest that you try listening to that excellent Touareg blues band, Tinariwen. You really can smell those campfires, you know.
[insert name here] snubs offer from Grimsby. That well-used Ceefax template headline has graced page 394 again, this time with the subject being Southend keeper Darryl Flahavan. But we shouldn't feel too bad about it as he apparently turned down a load of other clubs as well in order to stay with his beloved Shrimpers. The Grimsby Telegraph raises the stakes via a 'Town suffers double snub' headline. Eleven minutes later I can't tell you who the other one is, as the page resolutely refuses to load. If you can be arsed, try it later.
To add to our depression comes the news from the official site that the suits upstairs have ordered Neil Woods to dispense with the services of Liam Parker, Chris Hyam and Joe Lightowler. Neil, wringing his hands while he told these homebirds to fly away home, has admitted that he just doesn't like firing people. But it is difficult to determine from the interview why the lads were actually sacked. Was it simply because they are not considered good enough? Was it because two of the three have had bad injuries? Or was it because Town just can't afford YTs any more? Lightowler and Hyam have both signed for Bridlington. Good luck to 'em all, and let's hope you prove the Town folk wrong.
The Diary yesterday was asking you lot about favourite fish shops, and loads of you have written to him apparently. I look forward to reading about your favourites on his return next week. I grew up on fish and chips from Rodwells which also boasted the best display of saucy postcards I've ever seen. That one about piston broke still gets me every time. Nowadays it's got to be Ernie Becketts in Cleethorpes market place. See yer tomorrow.
Tuesday 14 June
Cast your mind back two or three weeks, reader, and you will recall that the officials of Grimsby Town Football Club were in negotiations with "an unnamed midfield player". "We are looking to strengthen the squad as soon as we possibly can," said Mr Russell Slade at the time, "but at the same time, we have to make sure that it is the right type that we bring in." Whether or not he was the right type, Jim Goodwin ended up signing for Scunthorpe instead, and so Russ's search continued right up to the present moment, when Town officials are again holding talks with "an unnamed midfield player". "Of course, we want to get the squad strengthened sooner rather than later," says Mr Russell Slade today, "but we have to make sure we try and bring the right type of player in." That French referendum on the European constitution looks like being too close to call, doesn't it? I bet Michael Jackson gets found guilty though.
But on days like today, when there seems to be little to report concerning present and indeed future Mariners, our attention invariably turns to Blundell Park's heroes of the past. And sometimes Nicky Southall as well. It's just as well, then, that BBC Humber is reporting interest in the ex-Town ex-winger from Hull's Peter Taylor, widely feted as one of the sharpest minds in English football management today. Taylor has been paying close attention to Southall recently and concludes: "I know that he's also a free agent because I think he's got it in his contract at Gillingham that he doesn't have to take up the offer that they offer him." So he doesn't have to sign a new contract if he doesn't want to? It's player power gone mad!
Before today's final item I will explain that the Diary is gonna be leaving you for a couple of days after today. With any luck there'll be a guest or two here to fill the space, though, so you'll still get your daily fix of morbid sarcasm and bitterness.
You will all sleep more soundly in your beds now that Leicester-based Town fan Martyn Wyburn has emailed back to answer the Diary's recent query about the fish and chip shop in his city that bears the fair name of Grimsby. "Yes it's still on Welford Road, but if anyone working there has ever been within a mile of Grimsby I'd be surprised," he explains, adding: "Apart from having to make do with Championship and sometimes Premiership football here (when we all know the real stuff is actually played in League 2/Div 4), they just don't seem to know how to cook fish. The batter is always a bit greasy. Although having said that, the Grimsby Fish place is the best." There's an idea! Everyone email firstname.lastname@example.org and nominate your favourite chippies in Grimmo and elsewhere. This could keep us going for a few days when I get back, or at least until that midfielder gets a name.
Monday 13 June
Ding ding ding! Official club announcement! Town could be in line for a few quid if the Football League's legal action against its former advisers proves successful next February, according to a statement on the club's official website. The League is suing the suits who it says should have made sure that the scumsucking pondlife of Carlton and Granada couldn't welch on their contractual obligations to pay it loads of money just by closing down ITV Digital. And GTFC, it appears, have successfully lobbied to have the £138m that the League could be awarded distributed among the 72 clubs according to the divisions they were in for the outstanding period of the ITV Digital contract rather than to where they are now. Anything that would mean loads more moolah for Town and loads less for Hull is fine by the Diary, so join me in crossing your fingers. After insisting for most of yesterday that the announcement would be made on Sunday, and then sheepishly altering the page to say Monday at about six o'clock in the evening, the Mariners could clearly do with a few quid to invest in their web department.
Not to mention, of course, their transfer budget. We all know that Forfar were "insulted" by Town's "ludicrous" offer for Paul Shields, but did we know exactly how insulting and ludicrous it was? Yes, now that Loons chairman David McGregor has very helpfully gone public with the details, explaining that Mr Russell Slade "has since... admitted that the offer was a joke and that annoys me even more." So what did this comical bid amount to in pounds of the realm? Five thousand quid up front, it transpires, is the paltry sum that Russ waved hopefully in front of McGregor shortly before being escorted from the premises shouting back: "But it worked for Torquay and Martin Gritton!"
In case you missed it, the honours list thing came out at the weekend, and Her Royal Highness Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, seems to have decided that 690 appearances in professional football over a period of 18 years with the same club are really not that big a deal, and hence that John McDermott, far from warranting a MBE, CBE, KBE or OBE, and still less a knighthood, should count himself lucky to have food on the table at all, let alone the fact that he is not used as a slave to clean the Duke of Edinburgh's body with his tongue. All of which sounds to me as good a reason as any to storm the gates of Buckingham Palace and execute the entire monarchy.
Jon Maloney. Former Doncaster defender. Aged 20. Wanted by Town, Scunny and Northampton. Probably going to York instead. As you do. Scott Kerr. Scarborough midfielder. Town target. Tapping-up scandal last summer. Now leaving Scarborough. Possibly still Town target. Probably going to Lincoln instead. Or Barnet. As you do.
Sunday 12 June
Hello! So many of you have emailed in to tell each other what you're reading that I thought it warranted a super special Sunday Diary. Hope you don't mind.
First of all it's Tim 'Black And' White, who recommends Here There And Everywhere by David Joss Buckley a biography of Steve Walsh while Martyn Wyburn (exiled in Leicester) writes: "I'm reading Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee at the moment which is a very apposite title for a Town fan!" Thank you, gents. Is that Grimsby Fisheries place still on the Welford Road, Martyn?
Next up is John Pakey, who has "a pile of reading" right now. "I've got Roman Abramovichy-whathisface and his secret history shocker story to look at plus Lance Armstrong and his book on the actual Tour de France rather than battling cancer after they were dumped on my desk at work. The book I'm currently getting to the end of and loving every minute, though, is The Fight by Norman Mailer, all about Ali v Foreman. It's bloody fantastic. For the sport fan not into boxing this will give a great insight into the sport. Gets the Pakey thumbs-up. Observer Sport Monthly in May did a readers' poll I'm using that as a guide. Fever Pitch was voted number one. I'm iffy about that. I liked it, but hated it because the team was Arsenal. I really can't stand Arsenal, or Ewoks. God, imagine an Ewok playing for Arsenal? The horror." I'm clearly missing something at the end there, John and I've not read OSM since they slagged off Blundell Park last year but thanks, mate, and I hope Macca's well.
Chris Parrott says: "The 'anorak' in you (and there's a phrase you never expected to read) may be interested by the book recently published by Town/Barnet fan Rob Cavallini The Wanderers: Five Times FA Cup Winners. This tells the tale of the founding fathers of the modern game at a time when the biggest decision before most matches was 'which rules shall we use?' Plenty of stats in the back together with pen portraits of players (including the likes of Allsop and Kinnaird)." One for Andy Holt by the sounds of it, then. Thanks Chris.
"I'm not normally a book person," admits Mike Worden, "but on holiday last week started to read The Beautiful Game? by David Conn. I met David earlier this year at the Clubs in Crisis Day at Wrexham and got hold of his book a couple of weeks after. After starting it last week I couldn't put it down. It's a great insight into the murky world of football club chairman and the men in grey suits running the FA. The book includes numerous examples of chairman getting richer whilst the clubs get poorer. No mention of our own club by the way but Sheffield Wednesday get a real slating for their post-Hillsborough disaster attitude and the financial activities of former chairman Dave Richards. Generally the book leaves the reader with a sense of shock at the ease with which chairmen have ripped off the fans at a whole host of clubs and, in some cases, at the expense of safety with tragic results. I'd recommend it. The holiday was good too." Cheers Mike. I'd recommend it too (the book, not the holiday, because I don't know where you went), having read it a year or two ago. Depressing, isn't it?
Thanks also to Chris Howes for a thought-provoking final note. "Add Dynamo Defending the Honour of Kiev by Andy Dougan to the list of topper footy books," he writes. "About a 1942 footy game between the Luftwaffe and a team from occupied Kiev, made up of the stars from a pre-war Dynamo Kiev team. Makes you realise that there are times when football and supporting your team mean something more than merchandising."
As for the Diary, I try to think about football as little as I can over the summer not always that easy for me, especially between the hours of 12 noon and 2pm Mondays to Thursdays and so the sport is rigorously excluded from my reading list. After Douglas Coupland's Eleanor Rigby I shall be reading If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor and Man Walks Into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer by Pete Brown. I've got Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves waiting as well, but it looks bloody terrifying, to be honest. Maybe I'll just put a record on...
Friday 10 June
"Fenty fails to sign free-scoring Forfar forward for a fiver". Hello, Miss Guest Diary here drafted in at short notice to fill the gap left by your more regular guest diarists. I thought I'd try my hand at tabloid-style hackery to bring you the news that Town have failed to sign Paul Shields from Forfar after making an offer their manager describes as "insulting quite frankly". Do we give a damn? My first thought on reading this news story was: "If Town have got money to spend on players, why can't they use it to improve the contract offer to Stace, everyone's favourite yard-dog." And my second thought was: "Why do Town need another striker when we've got Redds, Gritts, Parky, Northy and Heggo".
You can tell I've been perusing my season ticket renewal leaflet, which features pictures of the above plus Rambo, Macca, Craney and Jona. Where do these nicknames come from? Is there a special FA rule which says if your name ends in a vowel you shorten it and add an 's' (hence Reddy to Redds) but if it already ends in an 's' you take that off and change the end vowel (so Jones to Jona). And why is Gritton "Gritts" and not "Gritty"? We need some clarification, some proper rules along the lines of "I before E but not after C" which I remember from my junior school English classes. Any suggestions?
Some late-breaking news yesterday from BBC Humber was Carlisle's "capture of former Grimsby goalkeeper Anthony Williams". Williams is described as being "ever-present"; one of those expressions which seem only to crop up in football new stories. My favourite is "rounding the keeper" can the verb "rounding" ever be used in any other context? I digress. My first thought on hearing this news was: "Well that's one relegation place taken care of for next season."
I haven't been able to find any other news (not that I tried very hard I think all this trawling of teletext and the internet for transfer news is a male thing) but, following on from yesterday's diary, I do have a summer reading recommendation for you. This book is not about football, or even about sport, but I found it to be an enjoyable and thought-provoking read: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. You'll gather by the spelling of 'traveler' that it's an American novel, but give it a go anyway. Cheers.
Thursday 9 June
Not since his sticker was one of the last four needed by the Diary to complete the 1984 Panini album has Jovan 'John' Lukic been of such interest to a Grimsby Town supporter as he is today. This is because the wiry-haired former Arsenal and Leeds goalkeeper has a son called John, also a goalkeeper, who has this morning signed for Grimsby Town. See? JL junior is 19 years old and has just been released by Nottingham Forest, where he didn't quite break through to the first team, and has been acquired by the Mariners seemingly as second in line to the Blundell Park first-team goalkeeping throne that will be occupied by someone else who hasn't been signed yet. What a dreadful sentence that was. And John the Elder has not been slow to pass on his experience to his son. "He has watched me in games and pulled me aside and told me things," the youngling explains, hopefully meaning when to come off his line and how to make himself big, rather than that his real mother was an elk, or something.
BBC Humber, meanwhile, breaks its vow of silence to report that Anthony 'Safe Hands' Williams and Stacy 'Where's The Fire?' Coldicott have both turned down new contracts, and Rigid Russ is unlikely to bend to an improved offer any time soon. Stace who is bound to have a better offer come in from Bristol Rovers, Northampton or Redditch United any day now has his name misspelt three times by the report, which ends by quoting the Mariners' manager as saying "it's sometimes best to hold your breathe" and is trailed on the front page of the Humber site with the sentence: "Town are resigned to losing Stacey Coldicott and goal keeper Anthony Williams as neither resigned." Which is so remarkable that it barely needs to be remarked upon.
The remarkable Mark Wilson is taking time out from this remarkable whirl of transfer activity to email some remarks to the Diary about his remarkable summertime reading. "Keeper of Dreams by Ronald Reng German keeper plucked out of obscurity by Barnsley, makes debut at Anfield, can't believe what English football is like, goes back to obscurity. Tales from the Boot Camps by Steve Claridge very funny and honest book about being a journeyman footballer, great stories about Barry Fry. The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro by Joe McGinniss diary of a season when the Italian equivalent of Grantham Town got promoted into Serie B. Well observed, funny and bitter sweet. Best football book ever. I'm currently looking for books on how to manage foxes and train carthorses, one for the groundsman and the other for Sort It." If you can help Mark by recommending such a read, or would like to share some summertime choices of your own, then email the Cod Almighty Book Club at email@example.com. Yo.
Wednesday 8 June
At last Town have more than one midfielder and contrary to earlier reports, the man who has just been brought in to play football in midfield has a name. It is Terry Barwick. He is 22 years old and has signed a two-year contract. For Diary readers whose cup is half empty, the club's official website describes him as "combative with a good engine", which is of course far more important in a Grimsby midfielder these days than the ability to pass a ball. Furthermore, he played once for Scunthorpe last season, when they achieved automatic promotion, and 41 times the season before last, when they came within a gnat's chuff of relegation to the Conference. If, on the other hand, you prefer to perceive your drinking vessel as within 50 per cent of happy repletion then you might console yourself with the knowledge that the Mariners have signed a player from a higher division, and if he's related to that bloke from the FA then maybe he can pull in a few favours.
Justin Whittle, meanwhile, has presumably returned to these humble shores from whichever exotic destination found him holidaying, as Town's reliable captain has also signed a new contract. The best news of all today, however, is that Mariners legend Sir Glen Downey has done likewise! Admittedly, HRH His Holiness the Rt Hon Sir Glen played only a quarter of an hour of first team football throughout the 200405 campaign, but those who made the journey to Kidderminster on 30 April will testify, to a man, that so glorious and majestic were those fifteen minutes that the decision to extend his terms at Blundell Park can only have been a formality, and Russell Slade is sure to have beaten off fierce competition from rival clubs to retain the services of His Magnificence the Very Rev Sir Glen MBE. Bravo!
A frightened, cursory examination of the murky depths of the Diary's inbox, then, and Phil Shorter has emailed on a variety of subjects. "Yes, the Diary is right," he announces uncontroversially, "that 1998 DVD was definitely on sale in the club shop before the end of last season." Maybe this is the director's cut, then, and in this version Kevin Donovan doesn't explain to Alan Buckley why he saved his life. "I know we are often hearing about Challinor (boo, hiss)," adds Phil, "but what happened to the Charlton/Swedish guy who Challinor tried to separate from his leg?" The answer is that Martin Pringle eventually had to retire from football. His injury and the end of his playing career brought him tremendous sympathy from fans and well-wishers throughout the game of football. Then he blew it all by becoming an agent.
Finally today, season ticket sales seem to be exceeding all expectations. But they say that every year, don't they? Maybe they should think about raising their expectations a bit.
Tuesday 7 June
If Martin Gritton asking for a towel to wipe the snow off his head is not evidence enough of Rudimentary Russ's worrying predilection for long-ball tactics, the prosecution would like to quote from the Town manager's latest utterance on his club's official website. Today two goalkeepers are the latest players reported to be close to signing for the Mariners (as sure a sign as any that news of their proposed transfers will abruptly dry up tomorrow and the OS will be "Goalkeepers? Who mentioned goalkeepers?"). And the first thing Russ wants us to know about the gloveman pencilled in for first-team duty in the 200506 campaign is not that he is possessed of tremendous reflexes, great agility or shrewd decision-making, nor even that he is blessed with a good eye for a quick throw. No. "He's a big presence," says the boss, "and he actually kicks the ball miles." The Diary advises readers to begin psychological preparation now for one more fresh humiliation next season, which is likely to become the first ever in which even Lincoln fans feel entitled to travel to Blundell Park and taunt the home supporters by shouting "Hoof!"
If you've already bought your season ticket and you've got some money left over from that and the course of neck exercises you'll need for nine months of watching the ball get lamped 30 foot up in the air, then you may be interested in some novel ways of disposing of it. Yesterday we had the supporters' trust's Grab-a-bit-of-Grass appeal; today GTFC have released a twenty quid DVD of the team's two winning visits to Wembley in the far-off, remote, distant glory days of 1998 (I thought they'd released one ages ago, actually, but hey) and unofficial Mariners website 3 Fish on a Shirt has placed on sale a T-shirt priced at 12 pounds sterling, all profits from which will go to the Tax Thing Whipround, otherwise known as Keep the Mariners Afloat. If none of that appeals then please make a donation to the emergency fund to send me on a relaxing holiday to a beautiful island with no internet connection and sea warm enough to swim in - otherwise known as Keep the Diary Afloat.
Back to transfer news now, and the Grimsby Telegraph is a step ahead of Town's official site. As well as reporting the club's approach to two new goalkeepers, the popular local newspaper reveals that Relentless Russ is hoping to bring in "a Championship defender" as well. That means Roger Federer, right?
On the subject of the killer fox that has been terrorising Town's turf, the Diary has received an email from one Sir Charles Sebastian Lethbridge-Stewart. "I knew I was right all along," writes our aristocratic correspondent, "despite what those loony lefty smelly new age traveller types shouted at me as I rode past them. See foxes are a menace to society. Mr Fenty, just say the word, and my hunt and I will be there in a flash. Two dozen horses and a hundred hounds or so bombing up and down the Blundell Park turf should stop the little orange bastards digging it up." To be honest, Sir Charles, you can do what you like: all the tactical indications are that Town won't be using the grass much next season anyway.
Monday 6 June
Just as you were still receiving counselling for the trauma inflicted by their fans celebrating promotion by shouting "AAAAH! AYAWOTCHINCODDEDS?!" down Radio Humberside's microphone on the last day of the football season, Scunthorpe United have found a new and even more devastating way to mete out pain and torment on their deadly sworn enemies down the road at Blundell Park. Yea, Grimbarian, tremble with rage and grind thy teeth to powder, for the Iron have signed a bloke called Jim Goodwin from Stockport, who Town were apparently after as well. A 23-year-old Irishman, Goodwin has penned a two-year contract at the Glanford Industrial Estate, and it looks like he was the 'unnamed' midfielder from last season's third division who Rambling Russ was on about signing last week. Several coachloads of Scunthorpe supporters are shortly expected to continue their campaign of psychological torture by travelling to Grimsby to knock on people's doors and then run away.
Fast-moving Town chairman John Fenty has made an early pitch for the 2005 World Keeping A Straight Face Championship by praising the support received by his team from the BP stands during the 200405 campaign. In insisting to the Grimsby Telegraph: "Last season we had fabulous support from the fans," Fenty displayed outstanding control of his facial musculature, before adding: "I thought they were fantastic," in a slightly louder voice so as to drown out the chorus of mindless boos going on across the town in the background. New season tickets go on sale today, by the way.
Town's tireless supporters' trust has hit on more money-raising wheezes to keep the taxperson from the gates of Blundell Park. For 50 quid, individuals and businesses will shortly be able to sponsor a section of the very earth and grass over which the boys in black and white will be lamping long balls without Thomas Pinault next season. Said sponsors will get their names on a 'roll of honour' in the matchday programme, receive a certificate of ownership, and be entered into a draw to win a 200607 season ticket. More details can be found on this page, and anyone interested is advised to bagsy their patch of turf quick before the fox digs it up.
Friday 3 June
Check the usual breadth of Town sites. One tick for the club's environmental business practices (check out that management bollocks speak) as the OS features a recycled story/reminder about shares. Basically, they want you to BUY SOME. Dave Boylen recalls the time he scuffled in the tunnel with "King" Kevin Keegan.
One Cod Almighty wag reckons "scuffle in the tunnel" could be a euphemism.
Decide to have a read of the latest rough guide. Given the lack of news and other Town related articles around at the moment, I wonder how hard can it be for a full-time writer to pen something in the close season that is of the quality of the current rough guide, ie. a) engaging, b) interesting, and c) well-written.
More salesmanship as you are urged to BUY A NEW SECOND KIT. For some reason inexplicable Phil Collins is quoted. For some reason explicable our Andy's research on last season's kit wearing is also indirectly quoted. Is our Andy happy that his research is being used as a means to justify a new kit?
More vagueness from Russ. Maybe a midfielder is coming, maybe another - Stacy - is staying. If, when, why, what. All it'll boil down to is "how much have you got?"
Nothing new on This Is Grimsby.
Realise we're going to have to pad out the diary with lots of reader's letters. Lucky we've got some after yesterday's call for alternative careers for our current crop of players. "Anthony Williams could be a juggler. Hang on. No he couldn't." Thank you, James Thundercliffe. Mat Hare next. "If Stacy was going to leave football to become a fireman can we infer that he has the biggest hose of all the Town squad?" Yes, the macho, sweary Mat Hare thinking about willies. And it doesn't stop there. "Tony Crane certainly has the biggest arse so perhaps he could make a few quid by allowing kids to use it as a trampoline or renting it out to policemen as a road block. And yes, I did just suggest Tony Crane could rent his arse out for coppers." A turnaround from the Stace situation where he couldn't get into the public services then.
Still nothing new on This Is Grimsby.
Thank goodness for Pat Bell, a man of higher standards - and more thoughtful late afternoon tea breaks than most of us. "A shame we didn't know about Coldicott sooner - all sorts of Coldicott poured cold water on Southend's promotion hopes, Coldicott was usually on hand to extinguish any danger copy suggests itself." With the kind of play-down strategy that Bald Russ could learn a thing or two from, Pat continues "I'm rubbish at the sort of alternative careers thing you suggest, so I'll content myself with the obvious suggestion that whatever they were, they'd all be temps." I can see it now. 'Can you do ten copies of this please Master Hockless?' "This with the exception of Macca, who, depending on the state of his moustache, often looks like a Second World War NCO. The problem is players are gone so quick you don't get time to attribute any personality to them. Rob Jones could maybe be a sort of giant car mascot - nodding donkey kind of thing." Is he Town's back-line's mascot then?
Receive an email from a mate who has done a fireman test. "The written test is a piece of piss. Word association, numerical sequences and logical shape matching. If you pass that it's the bleep test and some strength tests, then some ladder climbing, crawling round in BA and such." This sounds too easy. "Then an interview." Aaaah. "He must have failed at the written part, 'cos an footballer should have no probs with the physical tests. There was an ex rugby league pro on my course." Now the question is: did the rugger player get through? And does this mean ex rugby pros are 'better' than footballers? Not that this is the end for our Stace reckons my mate. "Looks like Stacy will have to settle for bin man then!" Or another season with Town.
Still nothing new - or even recycled - on This Is Grimsby.
Time to contemplate an afternoon nap, and timely advice from that man Pat with his cures for insomnia. "Assuming the insomnia thing to be a genuine enquiry, my basic strategy has always been to carry on reading in bed until I'm physically unable to keep my eyes open, so my mind doesn't have time to get going after I turn out the light. Can lead to you imagining some wierd plot developments as you hover on the edge of sleep though - why is George Eliot suddenly speculating on the impact of a home win next Saturday?
"If the problem is less getting off than staying off, boringly enough a large part of the answer seems to be avoiding drinking too much or having coffee in the evening. If you do wake and your mind is racing, reading (again) requires a tolerant or heavy sleeping partner but stops you worrying about not being able to sleep, and stops your mind going off into unwelcome channels.
"Lately I've found that reviewing Wales' success in the Six Nations works pretty well for getting me off, but that probably wouldn't work for the average Town fan, and thinking about a distant Town success (and what other ones are there?) could just lead to angst.
"Sounds banal enough when I put it all down, but I'm bored, so this passes the time."
As I hope this diary has.
Thursday 2 June
No news is good news, they say; then again, whoever said that has probably never tried writing the Diary on a wet Thursday afternoon in the close season with Town's chances of signing an interesting new player in the immediate future looking roughly on a par with the likelihood of the new Wembley stadium being completed on time and to budget. This being, sadly, very much the case, the Diary has been forced to plumb the very depths of GTFC gossip today, turning up only the unedifying finding that the club's long-serving midfielder Stacy Coldicott nearly quit football last summer to become a fireman. Leaving aside for a moment the possibility of an imminent ballot among the Mariners squad for industrial action over pay let alone a mass exodus as the team seeks better money manning the amusements down Meggies over the summer let's fill the space with your speculations as to what jobs Town's players would do if they weren't Town's players. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a little careers advice for the men in black and white.
The Diary isn't the only one feeling the news pinch today, as our local organ the Grimsby Telegraph is forced to report something about some Scunthorpe player just to occupy a column or two below today's lead football item, which is that non-story from yesterday about Anthony Williams might sign a new contract but probably won't, and Relaxed Russ doesn't know or care much either way. The tumbleweed seems to be a-driftin' around the whole of Grimsby and Cleethorpes, though, and not just Blundell Park, since the second news story on the front page of the Telegraph website is headlined Getting to the root of good hair colour.
On which note, both tonsorial and anticlimactic, I shall bid you farewell for the week and express my fond hope that tomorrow's guest diarist, whoever it is, gets a bit more material. Oh, and if you have any non-drug-related suggestions for remedying insomnia, then email those to us as well, will ya? Actually, I could just try reading today's Diary, couldn't I. Anyway. Bye.
Wednesday 1 June
Hello! Well, there may be a grand total of no midfielders on the books, but Risky Russ has already taken steps to address his shortage of strikers with the acquisitions of Jermaine Palmer and Gary Cohen assuming, of course, that the latter does eventually sign for the Mariners and not Northampton, Darlington or Bristol Rovers and now there's good news for the defence too. "Town boss Russell Slade is confident that defender Justin Whittle will commit to another season at Blundell Park," announces the club's official website today, next to a picture of Anthony Williams. The GTFC captain is expected to sign a new contract when he gets backoffizollerdiz, as we say in Grimsby.
Before you go off mocking the OS because I know what you're like, you people, tut tut tut the above-mentioned picture of Anthony Williams does have some relevance to the state of the world on Wednesday 1 June 2005, as it looks like Town's crumbly custodian will not be signing the new contract that nobody but Resolute Russ thought he should have been offered anyway. Not that the manager is letting the need for a replacement act as too much of a drag on his laid-back style, man. "I have targeted a keeper and hopefully there will be something there soon," Russ has told his club's website, presumably before shrugging his shoulders, mumbling "whatever", and sloping off to his bedroom to listen to the new Beck album.
Elsewhere on the site that is official, we find that Town's bid to have John McDermott grade 2 listed (or knighted - whichever is cheaper) has taken another step forward as Macca's name "has been forwarded to Westminster for consideration for future honours rounds". I guess the next step is to email your MP. The OS goes on to list some of John's many achievements in typically idiosyncratic fashion, pointing out: "Before the Darlington game, Macca was on 584 league games with another 96 cup games to add to that making a total of 680 Mariners games under his belt." At this point you may be wondering why the OS seems to be choosing an entirely random point in the 200405 season from which to cite the player's appearance stats. In which case your curiosity will be sated by the knowledge that they've just copied and pasted the text from the page they published in March, when the 'Gong for Macca' campaign began, without updating this now peculiar-looking statistic. Yeah, I know. They're very busy people, though.
Finally, my thanks to Last Minute Diary for stepping in yesterday at... er... now, when was it they stepped in? At very short notice that's it. And I was very interested in LMD's reference to the Mariners Bet prices on next season's fourth division title. It's particularly interesting that a certain website describes the 20/1 available on GTFC as "incredible". Interesting as well as entirely apposite, because 20/1 is just about the shortest you will find the Mariners' odds anywhere, and falls short by an incredible margin of the 33/1 on offer from Totesport. So if you're daft enough to back Town then go to Totesport, and support the club financially by repaying the Diary for this useful advice with a half-time cup of tea one day next season.