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Diary - September 2005
Friday 30 September
Good afternoon Dave. Deviant diary returning from the dark side of the Pontoon with a snapshot of Town life.
If, like Ray Davies, you like your football on a Saturday, then tomorrow isn't just another day but your last opportunity for three whole weeks of wholeness to avoid the thrills and spills of Freshney Place. Shrewsbury's the place to be, with the visit of table- and cake-topping Town, the sexiest team in the land, causing the locals to scream with gay abandon. "Bring it on!!!!" shrieks their unfeasibly coiffured manager, recalling the recent summary despatch of the fabled and flopping black and white stripeys, Notts County. Yeah, we beat them twice as well as you did, so nerrrrrr with knobs on, as the more genteel and sophisticated of the conga-partying Town fans would add.
Never mind the coracles, feel the width and I don't mean Duane Dibley's stomach. The Shrews are threatening all-out attack-attack-attack-attack-attack with the ex-Hull (and a load of other unimportant lower league teams) striker the focal point of everything blue, in one of those so-last-year 4-3-3 formations. Oh Duane Darby, it says here: not a buck-toothed comic character from yesteryear. Bring it on!
Town? Gary Jones still has lumps and Parky has never heard of shin splints, honest guv. I see you've already pinched the salt when it comes to Town's pre-match fitness pronouncements.
For those not Gaybound, you'll just have to huddle around your wireless and, like the rest of us, rely upon that anarchic, zany wordfest of allusion, illusion and delusion that is Radio Humberside. The question remains unanswered: are Tondeur and Kerr the Ant and Dec of North East Lincolnshire? What do you mean it's never been asked?
Words of the week: work ethic.
Thursday 29 September
Most people from Grimsby think their local football team is rubbish even when it is playing well. Way back when the Diary was an apprentice crate shover and the Mariners went top of the old (old) Division Two by beating Middlesbrough 4-1, all the older, more experienced crate shovers persisted in their belief that the side remained firmly rooted to the League's re-election zone. But the times they have a-changed, and Town's tip-top run of form here in 2005 has had the unprecedented side effect of attracting more people to go and watch them. This was evidenced strongly in the attendance at Tuesday night's thumping win over Notts County: these days 5,577 is a bloody good crowd for a night match which people actually have to pay to get in to.
And the Diary can exclusively reveal good news for all these new supporters: that Town are still selling season tickets even at the arse end of September with discounts proportionate to the games already played. So right now fans can snap up an adult season ticket in the Pontoon (and guarantee themselves a seat for the forthcoming League Cup game against glamorous Newcastle) for just 240 quid. Hey, if the club isn't going to carry out any promotion or marketing when it comes up with a good idea then I might as well step in and do it for them.
Finally for today and for this working week, as far as I'm concerned, as tomorrow you will be consigned unto the loving care of a guest diarist, in our usual lovely Friday way an email from Keith Collins about all manner of things. "Good morning Diary," writes KC, "and what a loverly one it is in Grimsby. Having looked at the Spurs match again I noticed that at the end of the game mardy-arse Jol went straight down the tunnel without shaking anyone's hand." Well, that's not very nice, is it? But at least he saved the choicest swear words until he'd actually got to the end of the tunnel and back into the changing room. "I reckon Sort It is due for manager of the month for September. If so I hope he doesn't inherit the losing streak that normally comes with it." Indeed, and all good Town fans are sure to be backing John Gorman. "Have you noticed that the auction for J-P's shirt currently stands at £490?" Well, Keith, Town were pretty shrewd in getting it straight on sale while everyone was still celebrating the result. I see that the bid was made in the small hours of last Wednesday morning by a user with the QXL username 'gtfc_fan_ireallyreallyloveyou-youremybestmateyouare'.
Wednesday 28 September
"I don't believe you... you're a liar!" Now was that Robert Zimmerman at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, or was it most of Blundell Park to the referee's assistant who ran the line in front of the Findus during last night's first half? Either way, the bizarre disallowing of Martin Gritton's 'goal' ("Oh! You mean I have to put this flag thing up if it's offside? Right!") ended up a mere footnote in the Mariners' four-nil romp over one-time divisional pacesetters Notts County, with a pleasing first goal for Gary Cohen and another long-range jaw-dropper from Jean-Paul etc etc doubling the half-time lead established by Gritton and all-action hero Rob Jones. Early on County's pace up front had looked likely to cause Town a bit of trouble, but it was all over for the visitors from the moment Jones opened the scoring, and between then and half time in particular the 'Pies were pummelled into pastry crumbs by some of the most vibrant attacking football seen at BP for a good while. With second-placed Wycombe who visit Cleethorpes a week on Friday also winning heavily, the Mariners remain two points clear atop the fourth division on 23.
"Only 4 against 10 men," writes Loughborough Mariner in an email to the Diary. "Boooo Slades out! Now!" One assumes LM is taking an ironic potshot at Sorted It's erstwhile detractors, but Loughborough can have curious effects on workings of the human mind.
Tickets are on sale for Sir John McDermott's second testimonial or fund-raiser or party night or tribute event, whatever you want to call it, against Hull next Monday. Town's official website today starmaps the galaxy of stellar names from GTFC history who, it is hoped, will make some sort of appearance, including much of the 1998 Wembley teams as well as the revered likes of Clive Mendonca, Paul Futcher and the Italian stallion Ivano Bonetti. Lock up your hotel chambermaids.
Finally today, a Diary competition (courtesy of Sιan Carr). If you can guess which spectator in the picture above is a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur then you are not as daft as Andy Reid was made to look by John McDermott.
Tuesday 27 September
Very little of interest has surfaced on the internet in advance of tonight's game between Town and Notts County, save a preview on the 'Pies official site with a picture of Russell Slade managing them in 1994 and bearing only slightly more hair than in 2005. We can safely assume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that Simon Francis might play and Tommy Taylor won't. This being the case, let us spend this Tuesday lunchtime catching up with some of your emails.
Your first tale of drunkenness and cruelty comes from Andrew Smith, who has opted to spill the beans about his and some of the players' exploits after last week's thrilling win over Tottenham. "We ended up in Gullivers of all places with Messrs Croft, Gritton, Crane and North," whispers Andy. "Gritts claimed not to have shagged her off Sky, but he was clearly lying. Crofty was full of it even he knows how awful Parky is. Oh, what a night. Had to be on the train at 7:30 the next morning woke up at Manchester Airport, needed to be at Doncaster, but what the hell! Keep up the good work." Thanks mate. Gulliver's has clearly gone downhill since the days when the Diary was a regular: back then, there'd never have been a footballer within half a mile of the place.
"Having a recently replastered chimney breast gave me the ideal blank canvas to write the score from that epic victory over Spurs," writes Sibbo. "It reads one-nil to Town. Am I dreaming, or is it safe to wake up yet?" It's safe to wake up, Sibbo. Just don't go near Town's dressing room with the orange juice.
It's not often the Diary gets through three emails without at least one of them being from John Pakey but today... oh. "Picking up the Guardian today," wrote John, yesterday, "I cast my eye over the sport section and it seems that Grimsby's own number one, Steve Mildenhall, has been interviewed on his music taste in the 'What's rocking sport' section. Now, not wishing to criticise the big man, who did so well the other week in his part in making a bunch of north London toffs resemble a pub team with a fat guy playing on the left side of midfield. However, his top five seems to be vacant on one little-known hit called 'Up the Mariners' by top trio Pisces. Either way, good to see 'the likes of Grimsby' getting into the national press." Indeed, though less good to see One Ball drag our name through the mud with his ill-informed notions of genre. They might play toss like David Gray at Gulliver's these days, Mr Mildenhall, but that no longer means it must be indie.
Today's final speck of Diary detritus sticks on the subject of music like John McDermott to Andy Reid. It is an email from James Thundercliffe, who seems to be labouring under the misapprehension that his status as brother of Cod Almighty's own star interviewer and teaboy extraordinaire Paul will persuade this website to abandon its strict policy of refusing adverts and grant him a nepotistic favour by mentioning the gig at the Grimsby College Drum Bar this Friday, 30 September, where James's band South Parade will be performing their own compositions, supported by The Sonic Purveyors and Turning Tides, with admission charged at £3 and drinks promotions running throughout the night. Ha! You must think we were born yesterday, sunshine!
Monday 26 September
Town fans who watched last season's final away game at Kidderminster retain fond memories not only of Michael Reddy's two fine goals in their side's 4-1 stroll but of a magnificent minute from the master of mystery, Mr Glen Downey, in his debut for the Mariners as a late substitute just eight months after joining the club. Despite a brief non-speaking role in his side's League Cup win at Derby last month, though, a regular first-team slot looks further away than ever for the elusive Glen now that GTFC have loaned 20-year-old utility full-back Simon Francis from Sheffield United. Francis was very highly rated at his first club, Bradford, where he debuted in 2002 at the age of 17 and made 50-odd appearances before transferring to Bramall Lane last year despite interest from Sunderland and Charlton for a fee variously reported as £200,000, £250,000, £375,000 and £400,000. To add to his stock with Town supporters, young Simon even had the decency to get himself sent off at Blundell Park in 2003. Put the kettle on, then, Glen.
Modern supporters who take at least as great an interest in the balance of their club's bank account as the balance of its midfield will be delighted to learn that Town's third round League Cup tie at home to Newcastle will, like the Tottenham match before it, be screened live by a well-known satellite broadcaster, enriching the Mariners to the tune of another 50 or 60 thousand quid or whatever it was. The game has been scheduled for Wednesday 26 October, presumably by a Football League official with a perverse preference for Eastenders over Coro.
You shot me in the bollocks, Tim! Diligent students of the Diary will recall from last week that the Town reserve side that lost 3-1 at Scarborough on Wednesday night included Niall Flynn, a 19-year-old midfielder released by Sunderland over the summer. What we did not know at the time but have learned over the weekend is that Flynn was one of four Black Kittens punished by their club in 2004 for driving around their city firing paintball pellets at passers-by. Chris Brown, Sean Taylor and Ryan Bell were cautioned by police, fined by their club and ordered to perform 10 weeks' community service, while the target into which the hapless Flynn unloaded a round of paint turned out to be a 40-year-old off-duty police officer. Insert your own gag here about his shooting needing to be sharper than that on the football pitch.
Heh, heh! Grimsby! Fish! You expect it from tabloids and ropey network websites but surely not from the Daily Telegraph. Or maybe you do.
"Robbie King? Just notice glaring error in my drunken email I sent on Tuesday night," begins an email from John Pakey, who still doesn't sound quite sober. "I somehow confused an 18-year-old promising Colchester United midfielder for a little Irish guy who 'plays football' for Spurs. Hungover to hell on Wednesday morning, but still smiling." What about the rest of you, readers? Share your tales of post-Tottenham drunkenness at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you can recommend good hangover cures into the bargain then so much the better.
Felix Oliver-Tasker is another reader who just can't stop emailing the Diary. "Please thank TB for another superb match report," he enthuses. "It was well worth the wait. In reply to your query regarding footballers in our world-renowned Clap Clinic, I can only say that we get every kind of baller you can imagine plus many you can't." Are you absolutely sure, Felix? The Diary can imagine more kinds of ballers than most, you know. "If you would like a tip from an aristocratic, failed horse race trainer-cum-clap doctor, I recommend the one given by Sir Ronnie Scott, aristocrat of the tenor saxophone: 'Never pat a burning dog.' Thanks once more. Up the Mariners!"
Saturday 24 September
Town remain top of the fourth division - but came within a fly's fart of extending their lead to four points when Julian Joachim exploited the sunblindness of their defence to nab an equaliser at Boston this afternoon. The late surrender of two points is all the more maddening given that the Mariners had led for 80-odd minutes against ten men following an early red card for the home side and a 12th-minute penalty scored by Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala. On the bright side, Anthony Williams ships three for Carlisle, who slip from second place to sixth with a home defeat by Leyton Orient, but it's finally starting to happen for Wycombe, who replace the Cumbrians in the Mariners' slipstream with a 3-2 win at Mansfield which places them on 18 points: just the two behind Town.
Earlier in the day we all got very excited about the Cup of Pop again as GTFC were handed another home tie against a perennially underachieving top-flight team: this time Town's fellow black and white stripeys Newcastle United. Round three takes place in the week beginning 24 October; Graeme Souness is already promising "utmost respect" and "the strongest team possible", while Oran' Juice Fenty is already crossing his fingers for another visit from Emperor Rupert's all-seeing cameras. Priority for tickets will this time be given to fans who retain stubs from John McDermott's testimonial game against Hull on 3 October "and a couple of other games", announces the club, as the commercial department frantically scrabble round for a discarded cigarette packet on which to work out the timetable for selling them.
Friday 23 September
Are ye going to the parrty? So sang Alex Harvey in a sensationally sinister whisper back in 1976 when your Guest Diarist was thinner, blonder, and definitely taller than the shambling wreck caught on camera by Sky the other night. Tomorrow should be one hell of a party at Boston when the Town heroes receive a standing ovation from their fans at five to three. Yes, I know the away fans have to stand at York Street that's almost the whole point of going but this season's fixture will commence with an extra-exultant frisson, an Ashes-winning-like surge of pure Grimsbyism. Hail the conquering heroes, and let's hope they've got the legs to play again. By the way, crash-landing back to the practical, you will almost certainly get in tomorrow by proffering CASH at the turnstiles, despite the all-ticket bulletins. They like cash at Boston, and they will probably just shove you in a home stand if the away end is full.
I phoned the Boston chairman for an interview this morning, planning to ask him about the urgent need for a ring road; whether he planned any Portuguese signings to try to tempt the town's thousands of migrant workers into matches; oh, and what he thought about the new fraud charges brought against his manager and the bunch of allegedly (thanks Ed.) robbing hoods who used to run the club. But he'd apparently nipped out for a haircut, and I couldn't be arsed to ring back. The airwaves remain awash with conspiracy theorists muttering darkly about the paucity of Boston's revenues and the ginormity of their wage bill. Your Guest Diarist couldn't possibly comment on such tawdry matters but I'm sure that you will, gentle reader.
Andy Holt, Cod Almighty's ace statistician, appears to have at least a CSE in geography as well, having spotted a daft error on an official website article wherein JPK is interviewed. "Congo national manager, Claude Andrey, has promised to recall Jean Paul Kalala back to the Congolese national side for their next game against South Africa," trumpets the writer. Sadly, Monsieur Andrey is the team boss of neighbouring country Congo, whereas JPK plays for Congo DR, which is managed by ex-Cambridge luminary Claude le Roy. But the lazy young OS apprentice managed to get one thing right Congo DR do play South Africa next, and need to win 3-0 to top the group. Here, folks, is a nice map of Africa which explains all bar two things. One is that Congo DR used to be Zaire. The other is that the Democratic Republic of Congo is anything but flippin' democratic. I know this because I heard Andy Kershaw on Radio 4 on about it the other month.
Oh shit the OS chappies have spotted the error and half-fixed it. Maybe you should do your fact checking before you publish next time? That way we wouldn't waste ten minutes doing it for you...
The official site is hopefully more accurate with its team news for tomorrow's match. The vitalised Andy Parkinson has apparently decided that shin splints are a totally made-up malady and is now absolutely fit and raring to go. There are little unspecified doubts about Simon Ramsden and the Croftmeister, but a great big indelible question mark over Jones the Lump, whose ankle injury has kept him out of training. So that's put a little smirk on Gritton's face.
Boston appear to be perilously close to dropping Noel Whelan in favour of Lawrie Dudfield which is a bit surprising, given that my spies tell me that he has been the only 'star' performing even remotely well in the Boston front line which also includes that prat Joachim and our old friend Jason Lee. Ben Futcher may get a recall after a poor start to the season if only to mark the equally tall Rob Jones at set pieces. Tony Pulis has been coaching the side while Evans works on his own defence, and that might mean the signing of yet another player to shore up the Pilgrims' back four Dean Gordon. The one who ace Cod Almighty match reporter Tony Butcher once described as the "wandering minstrel on the left, hop, skip, jinking his way to instant karma". The veteran Deano has been training with Boston lately and word has it that they like what they see. Well, we did too, until he buggered off without so much as a cheerio.
The next cup draw to concern Town takes place on Sky at 12:15 tomorrow. Just time to hear it before setting off stumpwards. Let's hope we get what we deserve what the taxman calls a slice of footballing fortune. See yer.
Thursday 22 September
From the sublime, as they say, to the reserves at Scarborough. More than usually overshadowed by the deeds of their first-team counterparts, Town's second string travelled up the coast to the Bowl of Chips last night, where Danny North's tremendous free kick equalised a sixth-minute strike from the home side but a header and a penalty from Jimmy Beadle and Ashley Lyth respectively completed a 3-1 victory for Scarborough. Booo, Slades out. The Mariners' line-up included a 19-year-old Sunderland midfielder called Niall Flynn who, if he weren't on trial at Blundell Park, sounds for all the world like he'd be opening two new theme pubs a week, drawing shamrocks in the heads of pints of Guinness, and playing traditional folk jigs on the shillelagh.
Internet-savvy Town fans are all used to discovering, somewhere or other, at least one reference per week to a football club called "Grimbsy", but the media interest aroused by Tuesday's triumphant triumph over Tottenham has raised the usual inaccurate coverage of their club to the power of loads. Both the Sun and the BBC have remarked that the Mariners are only now on the back of successive relegations; large sections of the UK persist in the belief that Grimsby belongs to a county called Humberside, or Yorkshire; and there are, unsurprisingly, Premiership fans who don't know the name of the non-Premiership football ground where they have just been to watch a match. And don't get the Diary started on the Sky commentary team. As if all of the above were not bad enough, even our very own Grimsby Telegraph has taken Spurs' 18-year-old Leeds-born substitute Aaron Lennon and turned him into a thirtysomething Celtic midfielder with ginger hair and 39 caps for Northern Ireland.
Chris Jenkin, thank you for probably averting a war. The world needs picky bastards.
"I'm desperate for a match report on Tuesday's historic win over Spurs," writes aristocratic Diary reader, landowner and racehorse trainer Felix Oliver-Tasker. "All I get is poncy reports in the Grouniad [sic.] and the Daily Fascist. I know you guys had a few jars after the match but it is Thursday and the hangovers must be receding by now. Bring a little joy into the Clap Clinic at RBH and stir Tony Butcher into action please." Thankyou for your email, Felix. The Diary happens to know that TB is working frantically at this very moment on his account of Tuesday night's extravaganza, so it should be up on the site at some point this very afternoon; and I'd better clarify that, notwithstanding the imbibing habits of the rest of the CA team, Tony won't have touched a drop. That's how he remembers everything, you see. Never mind that, anyway - do you ever get any footballers in this Clap Clinic...?
That's your regular Diary done for this working week, then, so I will bid you all good day before leaving you in the hands of one of Cod Almighty's almighty team of guest diarists for tomorrow. A nice glass of orange juice with my lunch, I think.
Wednesday 21 September
"Jimmy Greaves, Jurgen Klinsmann, Edgar Davids, Robbie King, Sol Campbell, Paul Gascoigne, Alan Sugar, Gary Lineker, Martin Jol... YOUR BOYS TOOK ONE HELL OF A BEATING! I'm glad the Spurs fans around me took it so well in the pub otherwise I wouldn't have made it back to type this email, excuse me now as I fall asleep on the floor of my flat in a drunken euphoria! Or however you spell it. COME ON TOWN!"
John Pakey, via email
"Didn't see it but yeah shit! Heard bits on 5 Live. Said we deserved it"
Little Brother Premiership Diary, via text
"Oh my god :)"
Twin Sister Diary, via text
"we won thank goodness life is not logical. up the mariners"
Diary's mum, via text and several whiskies
"Up the fish people! Amazing"
Diary's Sheffield Wednesday-supporting mate Dave, via text
"what a beauty!!!"
Diary's non-aligned mate Chris, via text
"Just back in the Loughborough from the match, 'kin awesome. Never mind these Macca t-shirts being magical and lucky, they're 'kin awesome if that's what happens. Up the Mariners!! Just one caveat though, they're rubbish against Stockport and don't seem to work at all well against the Hatters, remember that for the away fixture folks! Having said that I did get stopped in the Main Stand at that game and was asked where I got the t-shirt from and so I pointed them to the address of your magnificent website... do I
get some commission? A nice haddock and chips at Steel's perhaps with bread and butter and a nice pot of tea? Who do we fancy in the next round then? Just need to say it one more time, 'kin awesome!!"
Loughborough Mariner, via email
"And Wycombe got twatted as well! Let's all have a disco!"
Simon Wilson, via text
"the team as a whole should be blamed, but I Reid is a disgrace - £20,000 a week and a professional sportsman and to be that far overweight is unreal. That 40 yr old right back he was up agaisnt was in far better condition and outpaced Reid many times. What a total disgrace, it's like having a race with your dad and losing"
'kingdawson', Spurs fan, BBC 606 messageboard
"the club should do the honourable thing and offer supporters who made the journey to Cleethorpes a full refund"
White Hart News
"Spurs might feel lucky to have only lost by the single goal after Karl Ready (twice) and Any Parkinson had earlier come close"
White Hart News
"The tie was unfolding at a frantic pace and the packed house would argue against the recent notion that football has become boring"
match report, Spurs' official website, confusing "the Premiership" with "football"
"Warm Kit Kats are rubbish. You know when the chocolate is soft? It's just not right"
"Every time I hit a ball they go over the top but this time I hit the target and I am happy for that"
Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala
"This is the last thing we wanted to happen"
"I'm a bit angry"
"I have never witnessed the fans in such vocal form since I have been here and I am sure that had a bearing on the game. We are crying out for that sort of support on a weekly basis and hopefully the fans have learnt their lesson in terms of getting behind the side"
"Not good enough, Reddy"
bloke in Pontoon, seat C55 or thereabouts, after a knackered-looking Reddy failed to beat the entire Tottenham defence single-handedly after running around constantly for about 80 minutes
"At last Grimsby is on the map for something other than fish"
David Anderson, Daily Mirror
"Goodnight Tottenham - fish-and-chip suppers all round in Cleethorpes"
David McVay, The Times
"DIMBA 1 DIMBOS 0"
"WHAT ABOUT THE ORANGE JUICE?"
Tuesday 20 September
On the day that NASA has finally announced a planned timetable for returning people to the moon, this is Diary mission control signing in at T minus six hours and forty-eight minutes. T for Tottenham, that is... and the only astronaut who might not pull on a black and white striped spacesuit this evening is shin splint sufferer Tireless Andy Parkinson, who missed the weekend's 3-0 win over Torquay but returned to training yesterday. For the Tottingham Hotspurts, that Rasiak fella is cup-tied after appearing against Town for Derby in the last round and, of course, doing fuck all while his fellow striker, Mido the cheeky Egyptian, serves out the last match of a three-game suspension for twatting somebody. Martin Jol, blah blah blah, expected to field strong side, rhubarb rhubarb, chance of UEFA Cup qualification, ya-di-ya-di-ya. We have lift-off.
Well, there's been a veritable whirlwind of media coverage in the run-up to tonight's game, the likes of which Blundell Park has not seen since... er... the likes of which Blundell Park has not seen. Heck, Cod Almighty's Simon Wilson has even managed a preview of his own, and it's not every week you can say that. But perhaps the nicest nugget the Diary has nibbled concerns on-loan Gretna forward Gary Cohen, who has given an interview to the News & Star, local paper to his former loan club Workington. And if you're still thinking it's weird to be signing a non-League player on loan, then just lie back, relax, and try not to lose any more sleep over it, since the player is hoping his season-long spell at BP could slip into something more permanent. "The aim is to do well this season and hopefully make them give me a contract," coos Gaz, with a far-away, dreamy look in his eyes.
Who says there's no loyalty in football any more? Who says the players don't care? On the scarcely believable occasion of his 700th appearance for the Mariners tonight, local legend John McDermott was interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live this morning for an entire 30 seconds. Asked to explain his unparalleled devotion to one club over a career spanning almost 20 years, the veteran right-back said a few words about Town playing good football and having decent managers before explaining that his enduring attachment to GTFC has also been due in large part to the low cost of living in the Grimsby area. Brings a tear to the eye, doesn't it.
Monday 19 September
Just one day remains until Town's big game with a big club in a not very big cup, which means there's very little time left for them to introduce a rule that if your dad was a season ticket holder last time Spurs visited Blundell Park then you can buy a ticket for a seat number ending in 1 if you turn up at the club shop on a blue moped between 9:46 and 10:03 tomorrow morning. Not that they need to, though, because only 300 seats remain unsold for Tuesday night's League Cup game against Tottenham, and they're just ones with a "restricted view", apparently. Seems unnecessary to point that out, really, since the whole of the ground other than the Upper Stones offers pretty much a restricted view; but since the standard of football on offer began its inexorable decline when Alan Buckley was sacked in 2000, not being able to see the pitch at Blundell Park is no longer the disadvantage it once was.
If you're after team news for the Spurs game, then you're out of luck, mister, cos there isn't any yet. The Diary notes, however, that the presence of aristocracy tomorrow night has brought humble BP to the attention of mighty global news agency Reuters, and I will link their preview because it refers to the fourth division instead of League Two, and the reporter is called Trevor Huggins, which is sort of cute. The piece doesn't really say anything useful, but nor does Ainsley Harriot, and it never did him any harm.
From one unappreciated knockout tournament to another, and once Tottenham have been sent crashing out of the League Cup tomorrow night, Town as you will doubtless be aware by now will have to turn their attentions to the Big Lorries Trophy, in which they will face Morecambe at home, probably on Tuesday 18 October. One of the consistently strongest sides in the non-League system, Morecambe turned fully professional a year or two ago and have recorded top ten finishes in all but two seasons since the Conference was established in 1995. The shortest odds on them claiming this season's title are 7/1 with William Hill, who are yet to offer a spread bet on the number of times Town's official website uses Morecambe and Wise references in headlines between now and the end of next month.
From Morecambe to another comedian, then, and former GTFC 'manager' Lennie Lawrence is apparently in the running for the vacant job at third division Bristol City. The West Country side have endured a miserable time of it since sacking Danny Wilson in 2004 as punishment for taking the team to two consecutive third-place finishes and, if Lawrence is being seriously considered to take over, are now looking to compound their blunders by running up millions of pounds of unsustainable debt.
Saturday 17 September
Blundell Park is overcome with the unfamiliar sensation of happiness as Town go top of a division for the first time in four years and 16 days with a relief-inducing 3-0 win over Torquay which was substantially less straightforward than the scoreline would suggest. The Mariners took the lead just before half time, when Rob Jones lashed home a loose ball from the edge of the Gulls' box, continuing his quest to wrap up the 2005-06 player of the year award before the leaves turn brown. The visitors emerged the stronger side after the break, though, forcing a clearance off the line by Gary Croft (I think) and an awesome divey-scoopy-offy millisecond save from Steve Mildenhall. The GTFC defence held out long enough for a shrewd double substitution to reverse the flow, though it was on the counterattack that Michael Reddy secured the points with two lovely finishes on 66 and 77 minutes. The win takes Town to the peak of the fourth division with 19 points: two clear of second-placed Carlisle. Flipping heck!
Friday 16 September
Dirk Diary back with you today as the regular Diary enjoys his regular Friday off. Hello!
As noted earlier this week, Andy Parkinson is likely to miss tomorrow's game against Torquay, says the OS. Yeah, chinny reckon. After last Friday's false hope we're not falling for that one again. If he does miss the meaningless league game, Parky - like so many Town part-timers - will be back at Blundell Park for Tuesday night. Martin Gritton or Terry Barwick stand by. Expect the team to be gunning for a win, if they can understand stormin' Russy Slade's declaration "the league is our bread and butter." Help is needed from the fans, who are asked to "suck the ball into the net". Remember your straws as you leave for Blundell Park tomorrow.
BEEP! An Official Grimsby Town Poorly Written Text Service message tells me that Sir John McDermott is having a benefit game against Hull on Monday 3 October. Ah, the irony; playing the team he so nearly buggered off to a couple of years back. "Most of the Wembley side have agreed to play, current Town side & Ivano Bonetti & Clive Mendonca." Shouldn't there be 'STOP' at the end of that telegram?
If you're struggling to keep up with the Spurs ticket rules - which seem to be changing as regularly as FIFA's attempts on how to interpret the offside law - then let us simplify it for you: tickets are going on general sale on Sunday now, not Monday. Sunday. SUNDAY.
Thursday 15 September
Wooo, spooky. The footballing ley lines that link Grimsby, Scarborough, Halifax and York in an eternal transfer quadrilateral are positively tingling with mystical energy again this week. It all begins with the Shaymen's former Town striker Darren Mansaram, who has newly returned from a loan at the Chocolate Bowl, where he had followed in the footsteps of umpteen recent ex-Mariners from Paul Groves right down to Paul Robinson. Now, Flash's natural successor at Blundell Park, Jermaine Palmer, having just completed a similar spell at his current manager's previous club, Scarborough, is now on his way to take Mansaram's place in the York squad on another loan. Oh, and Mansaram might go back to York when he recovers from a poorly groin. Got all that? Good. Next week: Steve Kabba was actually abducted from Blundell Park by aliens from the Beta Hydri system, who erased all memory of his playing for GTFC before taking a wrong turning at the end of the M18 and dropping him off at Bramall Lane by mistake.
Elsewhere around DN35 there's a frenzy of anticipation as the mighty Torquay and basement strugglers Tottenham prepare to visit Cleethorpes in the days ahead. Over on Mumblers World, the Mariners' youth team coach Neil Woods is reminiscing about the last time Spurs came up here, Gary Lineker, wasn't it, Gordon Durie, marvellous, "what's it like to be outclassed?", enduring image; while a bestubbled Martin Gritton characteristically sets his sights much higher to hope for a win over his old club when they travel the 8,700 miles from Devon this Saturday. Town uberdude Russell Slade, meanwhile, weighs up a gull in one hand and a cockerel in the other and concludes: "The Torquay game is far more important than the Spurs game," looking nervously over his shoulder and speaking softly so as not to let the commercial department hear.
Wednesday 14 September
He suffers shin splints on the seashore. He suffers shin splints on the seashore. He shuffers spin slint... oh, arse. Hello, readers! Today you find the Diary, callous and disrespectful as ever, trying to make a tongue twister out of Andy Parkinson's injury misery. The former Tranmere and Sheffield United AM/F was subbed off at half time during Town's spectacular one-nil win at Peterborough last Saturday, shuffering from the aforementioned spin slints, and may miss out on this weekend's titanic clash with Torquay with the shame thing. "Parky may need to mish training and resht for a few daysh," Rushell Shlade has told the Grimshby Telegraph. OK, I'll stop now.
A couple of emails have been flung Diarywards regarding Town's super new T-shirts, which have been produced, remember, "especially for the Sky cameras" that will be in attendance at next Tuesday's League Cup tie against the mighty Tottenham. "Sounds a little like the football equivalent of Songs of Praise," writes Andrew Lumbard, "where the church was always full, and everyone dressed up in the vain hope that they would be picked out by the telly." Rich Mills is even more sceptical: "T-shirts to commemorate the 2nd round of the Rumbelows/Milk/Coca-Cola/Carling/who's next? Cup that they haven't even played yet?" he thunders, overlooking Littlewoods in all the excitement. "Isn't that jumping the gun a little? Have they booked Riby Square for a victory parade on open-topped buses?" If they have, Rich, then it's a shame Tony Gallimore isn't around; in one important aspect he could have emulated the performance of Andrew Flintoff.
Tuesday 13 September
Clearly reeling from the success of Cod Almighty's 100 per cent unofficial and probably illegal GTFC T-shirts, the club has this week put on sale a Town v Tottenham T-shirt of its own ahead of next week's League Cup tie. The official website explains that the shirts, priced at an accessible £7.99, have been produced "especially for the Sky cameras", and "are a limited edition". Not limited enough to stop them giving away five in a very easy competition that costs 25p to enter (is the Spurs manager: [a] Martin Jol; [b] Frank Zappa; [c] the Sydney Opera House), but then tickets for next Tuesday's big game were supposed to be at a premium as well, and they still managed to find enough for Radio Humberside to bribe you with some to call its post-match phone-in the other week, and even then had plenty kicking about to throw in a couple for the winner of last week's auction for some mouldy old boots.
Speaking of GTFC auctions, the club is offering another one of those 'travel with the players on the team coach but only if you dress up smart like that Hitler chap' packages. There seems to be a little confusion over which match the offer applies to, however, since the sales blurb begins by referring to a game against "local rivals" but then says something about Boston United. Most peculiar.
In the Diary's Mariners World digest today: Grahams Rodgerses says Peterborough are good and so it was good that Town beat them. We'll try really hard to beat Torquay as well, because that would be good as well. They still need a new microphone.
Monday 12 September
Plain old Diary Diary back with you today. My profuse thanks to last week's sequence of stand-in Diaries. I thought they did very well; didn't you?
Just because the Diary is watching the cricket today instead of listening to The Go! Team's Thunder Lightning Strike for the 1,733rd time, doesn't mean I'm going to lend you the album. For one thing, you might not even have a turntable; for another, I might want to listen to it later on to ease the pain of England's imminent defeat, and it is on the latter note that this painfully contrived opening riff finally acquires some relevance to Grimsby Town Football Club. Mariners striker Martin Gritton has been linked with a loan move to fourth division rivals Bristol Rovers by several news sources, but none of them are none of them are really much cop; none offer supporting quotes from Ian Atkins to the effect that his horse is, indeed, of Gritton's colour; one cites an incorrect fee for the player's transfer last season to Town from Torquay; and it's hard to see Rampant Russ letting the player out given his significant contributions as a substitute since losing his starting place to Gary Jones none more so than on Saturday, when it was Gritton's cross that facilitated Jones' winning goal. Now then, Pietersen show us what you're made of... and let me see: did I file The Go! Team under 'G' or 'T'?
In the last two or three seasons Blundell Park has seen more ins and outs than a collapsing middle-order batting line-up, and if we're honest we've forgotten most of them already. Laurens Ten Heuvel? John Thorrington? Chris Williams? Who are yer? But one player who made a rather more distinguished short-term contribution to the Mariners' cause is Dean Gordon, the former Crystal Palace and, er, was it Middlesbrough left-back who stopped by for a few weeks last season, played well, spat his dummy some time round Christmas after bring dropped for one match, and fucked off to Cyprus. Now back in the UK and hungry for some more hot fourth division action, the player has apparently turned down an offer from Wycombe but might join the basement division's leading exponents of creative accountancy, Boston United. Hey, if a man likes to pick up his wages in cash, then who am I to question his motives? Even if he likes to pick it up in a brown paper bag from behind the toilet cistern at a service station on the A1(M).
Saturday 10 September
Brontλ Balti indeed.
Does this mean Russell Slade is better than Bill Shankly? The immovable object of Town's 50something-year-old record of consecutive away wins has met an unstoppable force: Gary Jones, to be precise, whose 47th-minute poke from a Martin Gritton cross proved enough to give the Mariners their sixth straight win on their travels at Peterborough this afternoon. Jones' third goal in six games - witnessed by around 800 loud Grimbarians - was just about the visitors' only shot on target in what the cynics will term "another fluky win" and the supporters Russ is finally winning over might prefer to call a classic smash-and-grab raid. Town move to second in the fourth division, level on 16 points with leaders Notts County with eight games played.
Friday 9 September
A quick guest-penned diary today as I've got a car to pack for a camping trip to Haworth.
Andy Parkinson is a major doubt for tomorrow's game at Peterborough, which means Russell Slade might be forced to field a full strength side. Arse. Gary Cohen is full of doubt again, Town's dieticians are making Ciaran Toner drink two pints of milk a day, while Tom Taylor's signing will continue to puzzle if he fails to make the squad.
"They suck you in, you think you are dominating the game and all of a sudden they break out and get at you very quickly." Is Peterborough manager Mark Wright on about Town's tactics or some wildlife programme he saw on the National Geographic? Mr Wright is prepared though. "I saw [Russell Slade] a few years ago on holiday, so I know what to expect." He'll not be in his trunks this time though, Mark.
Artichoke kazoo snurg, wibble wibble snort, jingo jingo caribou cavort wheeeeeeeeeee.
Thursday 8 September
Hiya! Bottom-of-the-Barrel Diary here, writing as bloody
usual from the remote and sinister Lincolnshire
village of Tetney. But beware! On Saturday I plan to
fire up the ol' mule and head for the big city
(Peterborough) where I will single-handedly ruin
Town's astonishingly win-mongous sequence of away-day
triumphs. I haven't seen the stripeys win since
February, see, having missed the one Blundell Park
Three Pointer they've managed since then.
Consequently the sheer Marvin-ness of my demeanour will doubtless drain the will to win, and possibly the will to live, from players and fans alike. "They're gonna score
here!" I shall declaim, Burns-like, as Peterborough
kick off, irritating the Cheerful Charlie Chesters
around me beyond endurance, and perhaps prompting the
formation of an impromptu lynch mob. Not to worry, I'm
used to dealing with those in Tetney.
Grimsby, in spite of what some residents will tell
you, is actually part of a wider community. We live in
a place called England, part of a group of islands
perched off the western end of the continent of
Europe, separated from our nearest neighbours (The
Congo) by a thin strip of water called the English
Channel. We have a football team, who we now know to
be a bunch of preening ponces, and a cricket team, who
hopefully will prove themselves to be genuine sporting
heroes as the last Test match starts today. As I write
we are 74 for 0, which is nice, and I urge everyone to
um...get behind the team, which probably involves
shouting at the telly or something. But anyway, no
booing, that's the important thing.
So, I might see you at Peterborough. If we lose due to
my voodoo-jinx presence, and you want to remonstrate
with me, I'm a small blonde girl with pigtails. You
can't miss me.
Wednesday 7 September
Hello and welcome from yet another ersatz diarist. Occasional Guest Diary here.
Who'd have thunk it eh? Two goals, an excellent away victory at a club near the top of the table and going third in the table. Blyth certainly earned the three points over Guiseley and look set to take the Unibond Premier by storm. Oh, and Town won away again, but I'm getting quite blase about that now.
So, what news does today bless us with? Well, you can hang out with some chairman or other at a match against one of those rich clubs - I forget the name, they all look the
same, don't they? Or, if paying lots of money to do that doesn't float your goat you could always buy some used, slightly flashy white football boots and get a couple of free tickets for said Big Game stuffed inside. Failing that, if you're a season ticket holder, the club have kindly allowed you to buy a ticket for the cup match. At the normal price. Just the one. In your usual seat. It's nice that they go out of their way to reward their loyal fans isn't it?
The Englishman was happy with the result last night. He says so. Although he wasn't too happy that we gave the ball away in the wrong areas. I assume in training they'll be working on giving the ball away in the right areas. Those Frenchies though eh? If they're not
smoking gitanes and wearing onions round their neck they're doing daft things like not being from France at all. It's a crazy world, boys and girls.
And with nought much else in the news to get excited about, I leave you with this article in the Telewag whose content sadly can't match the excellence of its title. Cheerio.
Tuesday 6 September
The Diary's still resting up, so Dirk here again.
In the build up to tonight's game at Chester, Mariners World carries an interview with Graham Rodger who hopes Town can recover from "Friday's bad day in the office". A man who believes league tables don't like, the Rodge observes with three away wins on the trot this term "we are better away from home; the team is more suited to playing away from home." But after Friday night's first-half display led to, in the eyes of Town's nϊmero dos, over-confidence let's hope the players aren't as eagle-eyed nor self-aware. "If there aren't changes the players will be fortunate after Friday," Rodgers said sternly enviously eyeing his mate Russell's axe, "and the bench is as strong as it has been for years." Handy with Tony Crane fit enough to be a substitute this season. There's little other team news other than Gary Cohen likely to replace Calvin Andrew, who is suffering from purgatory (depending on what you read Slade's trying to get him back to fourth division hell or he's staying in Luton paradise).
Talking of purgatory, Nick Hegarty and Paul Ashton have made their mark with Whitby Town, helping the Seasiders to four points in three days. Hegarty's substitution after a lively performance against Matlock Town on Saturday even drew boos from his quickly formed fan-club. Crikey! It's Pontoonitis in reverse. And last night Hegarty and, particularly, Ashton impressed our idling reporter in a goalless draw with Bradford Park Avenue. Am I alone in wondering the point of signing Tom Taylor to warm the bench if we have two handy youngsters anxiously waiting to strut their stuff at Blundell Park? Your thoughts to the usual address.
From current players having a go elsewhere, we turn to ex-players elsewhere, and first up is Anthony 'Tony' Williams speaking to the Cumberland News, basking in confidence after keeping three clean sheets so far this season. "If someone had said in pre-season that I would keep three clean sheets in the opening few games, I would have snapped their hands off." Tony, you're not alone. He continues, "It was nice to come into a side which hadn't just been put together as it takes time to gel so it's not ideal having too many new faces all at once.The whole team works hard for each other. There are no idle lads and everybody is prepared to do a job for each other." Will Ashley Sestanovich break Chairman's John land speed record to snap of Williams's hands when he hears this?
John Thorrington, the American whose 206 minute Town career in the second half of the 2003-04 season included a performance against Bournemouth that has stuck in the minds of several Cod Almighty correspondents, is the subject of an interview where the author shows that although sarcasm doesn't cross the Atlantic, a derogatory view of our home town certainly does. "But Thorrington ended [his European career] with lowly Grimsby Town, a lower-division team in a lonely outpost on England's windswept northeast coast that attracts fewer than 5,000 diehard fans on average to its games." Thorrington, to quote the Pasadenas, is doing fine now with Chicago Fire. "I'm just happy to be out there playing and healthy again." Stop snivelling Blanche.
Time to break open the diary postbag, and there seems to be something about Macca.
Our very own Miles Moss is cynical about the club retiring Macca's shirt number. "I'm not sure the club will take James Woodhouse up on his suggestion of 'retiring' Macca's shirt at the end of the season. However, I'm sure what they will do is rip it off his back as soon as the final whistle goes on May 6, and have another one of those blithering auctions."
The robotically named 'Hannah B2' writes in to Agony Diary with a problem. "My boyfriend always sports these T-shirts. I am a Notts County fan and have noticed something quite disturbing on the Macca T-shirt. I am keen to know what the protrusion is between Macca's legs as it has caught my eye a few times and I am not sure it's suitable attire for when he meets my parents. Can I have some feedback in the diary please?" WOOooooOOOO. You just don't want to be embarrassed by the fact your boyfriend supports a better black-and-white-striped team.
"Great interview, and nice idea about retiring the no 2 shirt," says Jason Ives. Why thank you Jason. "I'm also claiming an assist in Macca's goal [against Rushden] - I had my Macca T-shirt on." Clothing with magical powers? You'll be telling us Stuart Campbell donned an invisibility cape before games next. Jase continues, "Another thought on Macca, what with him nearing 600 games for the club, I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that Macca deserves some national attention for his achievements with Town. Perhaps a few e-mails to Sky Sports or Football Focus?" It's a fine idea Mr Ives, and one I think the club had in mind when they tried to get Macca a Lordship.
Regular postbag letterer John Pakey concurs, showing great minds think alike: "I like the idea of nobody being allowed to wear Macca's number. It seems the perfect way for the club to acknowledge what he has done for Grimsby Town. God, I love that man. I thought Thundercliffe's feature on the big man himself was bloody brilliant. In fact, Cod Almighty, you're just bloody brilliant. Best website, ever. You put the best spin on football there is." Give over, man! You're making me blush more than the time I walked out of the loo with my wanger hanging out of my fly. Get back to the point. "I was wondering if anyone at the club has told Match of the Day that, if they want to slum it in the fourth division, they should really do a piece on the ever-present right-back. If anything just to get that goal shown to the lunchtime audience on a Saturday." Leave it with us, people. We'll get on it. Which leaves the last words of today's diary to Mr Pakey. "UP THE MARINERS and LONG LIVE SIR JOHN."
Monday 5 September
Hi. Dirk Diary filling in today.
For me Saturday's diary covered off the 3-1 defeat to Stockport in a such a concise manner to consider the matter closed and posted to Timbuktu. But the Grimsby Telegraph's site goes one better, producing a blank page when clicking on the headline Slade: We can only blame ourselves for defeat. If you spent your Friday night doing something more worthwhile than watching the second-half horror show but don't want to wade through the blood and sinew of Tony Butcher's report, then check out the skeletal-like Moley Merkin QC executive summary. Everything you need to know, take it from me. If you endured the game then at least you have a voucher for the Spurs game now, eh...
...which leads us neatly onto a new feature in the Diary called We Do Your Homework For You. A few of you have been in touch confused by the ticket arrangements for Town's League Cup tie against Tottingham Hotspurts. Presumptuously - and not unreasonably it seems - a number of loyal season ticket holders thought that tickets for this cup game would be dished out much like the many previous cup ties: presenting your season booklet would entitle you to two tickets. Not so. As our man at GTFC tells us: "Season ticket holders can only obtain THEIR own seats for Spurs. They cannot get any additional tickets unless they have the Rushden/Stockport counterfoils in the first instance." Have you ever felt more like a consumer, rather than a supporter?
(And if anyone doesn't want their counterfoil from the Spurs tie, can they send it on so I'm assured of a seat for what is sure to be a jam-packed away following at Boston the Saturday afterwards, ta.)
Time then for a quick sweep of the official site for all sorts of revelations. The reserves are playing the "Sheffield United B team" this evening, viewable from the Upper Smiths only at the price of two quid to you sir. You might see a lesser spotted Downey from up there. There's some space left on a coach to Peterborough this Saturday, return journey presumably included. Can't be the players' coach either as the space (which could be in the luggage compartment for all we know) isn't being auctioned. If you like sport and you like quizzes then aren't you lucky for you might consider entering a team for a quiz night at Blundell Park on Tuesday 13th September, proceeds to KTMA. Other news... I haven't won the Gold Bond yet. And I still don't know what the Gold Bond is. Time to find out... Cheers!
Saturday 3 September
You know the last sentence Elvis spoke? OK, the last but one, before "I knew we needed some more bog roll when we popped down to Tesco's last night." It was probably something like "Don't be silly! Hamburgers are good for you!" And when your team is one-nil up at half time and the PA announcer tells you how the league table will look if the scores stay as they are, and your team would climb to second place, you just know what's going to happen next, don't you?
I'm having a week off. See you on the 12th.
Friday 2 September
Gust diary here. You read that right. Had a stonking curry last night and you know how it is...
Toilet humour put aside, first off there's an interview with Russ on a small and infrequently visited website. All you need to know is "it's early days, but we are doing OK." So, that's OK, got that? No mention of a strong work ethic though. Maybe that's where we went wrong last season. As well as not playing 4-4-2.
Tonight's match, skilfully rearranged to be at the same time as I'm working (boo!), could see Ciaran Toner figure. He's had his cast removed, you see: something the producers of Eastenders could learn from. Paul Bolland will return from suspension to boss midfield, but Electric Gary Cohen is hamstrung and misses out. Our opponents, Stockport, have drawn their previous four games, and Monday's performance against Peterborough forced manager Chris Turner to drastic action. "I've shaken the players," he says, "and slapped them round the chops a bit, telling them to gettahold of themselves." Sorry. Been watching too many Humphrey Bogart movies recently.
"The game is also KIDS FREE," notes the official site. Before you start dreaming of a game devoid of shrill cries (the like of which dominates England games these days), clarification is issued: "free kids with one full paying adult." Good news for any fancying themselves as a prospective modern-day Mr Bumble. Ah, dear reader, when it comes to jocularity, Town are to PR what Anthony Williams is to goalkeeping.
Such a figure-distorting scheme means the club is expecting a "bigger than average crowd". This season's attendances indicate that the club is therefore expecting more than the apathetically enhanced figure of 4128. Time for a "one adult ticket free with every paying adult ticket"?
Viewers of Soccer AM - which is to footy fans what The Ministry Of Mayhem is to parents (ie. a loud, noisy and bright wake-up call, which can't compare to Dick 'n' Dom) - may be interested that Town have agreed to take part in the Crossbar Challenge. There are very few ways left that Town can miss a penalty, so that's this one in the bag.
Talking of bags, time to put this kitten of a diary into one and throw it in the river. Mew!
Thursday 1 September
Remember all those foreign trialists who Town's official website would absolutely insist were going to have a kickabout for the reserves while they were over, and then just ended up on the plane back to France or Finland without so much as a sniff of the second string? Ewww. Some have suggested that the reason was GTFC's failure to secure something called international clearance, and this, in fact, is the reason the club's new exotic foreign signing Tommy Taylor did not appear as expected in yesterday's reserve run-out against Sheffield United. Taylor's no-show may or may not, in turn, be the reason why Grezza Rodge's side were defeated by five goals to two. A Paul Wilkinson goal brought Town level at 1-1 after the Blades had taken an 11th-minute lead but four second-half goals overwhelmed the inexperienced Mariners side and it fell to Tony Crane, of all people, to convert a 77th-minute penalty by way of consolation. Well, it's one way to try and get back in the first team.
Calvin Andrew has returned to Luton after the completion of his month's loan at Blundell Park. During his brief spell with the Mariners the 18-year-old forward made one start and three substitute appearances, scoring the winning goal at Barnet last Saturday, and tempted two websites and several hundred Town supporters into applying the Grimsby name plural and calling him Calvin Andrews.
Baz Rockliffe and Jonathan Wacey have both emailed, further to earlier Diaries this week, to contend that the last time Town were live on the telly was the last game of the agonising 200203 relegation season, against Brighton, "where Keane pointed down hilariously at the Brighton fans after Richard Hughes's equaliser," as Baz reminds us. This proves conclusively that the Diary was abducted by aliens after the defeat at Tranmere in May 2004 and had my memory of the previous two seasons erased entirely. I must write and thank them.
A third email this way comes, from Loughborough Mariner, who has exciting news about his wardrobe. "I had mine on at the [Rushden] match and he scored, so these Macca T-shirts are obviously magical and lucky!" gushes Loughborough. "Do you think we could get Macca to be top scorer this season by the power of the Macca T-shirt? PS Feel free to use that quote in your T-shirt sales blurb!" I'm sure CA's hundreds-strong high-powered marketing team have already seized on it even as we type. Were you in the Pontoon, by the way, LM? I might have seen you wearing it.
Staying on the subject of He that is Macca, Diary readers may nay, should be interested and delighted to discover that this website today carries an exclusive full-length interview with the great man. And remaining still with His Royal Maccaness, James Woodhouse has emailed with a cunning plan. "A few of my friends and I have been thinking of a suitable way to mark Macca's eventual end to his playing days at BP," he writes. "We have come up with that, along with Macca retiring, the club should also consider retiring his number 2 shirt. Not sure what the FA rules would be can't think they would have anything against it though, my only thought is that is perhaps a bit 'American'. Any thoughts of Cod Almighty starting a campaign on this one?" Readers! Email email@example.com with your thoughts on James's idea. But you know what? I think I like it...