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Diary - September 2006
Friday 29 September
You've all seen that Guinness advert on the telly, surely. You know the one where the blokes stood in a bar with a pint are whipped back pronto to the dawn of time. And ending up looking like newts. For some reason your Guest Diarist's brain equated this scenario to Grimsby's woeful defeat on Tuesday night. A match which was actually quite enjoyable for the first forty four minutes or so. Then Peter Beagrie showed us his thing. Several times, and very slowly. In his own area, right in front of the Pontoon faithful. At his age it is a moot point whether that sort of behaviour is even legal. Even the blokes who used to have a kickabout with a pig's bladder in the middle ages knew that it wasn't a good idea at all to show off right near your own goal. The nearest thing we got to an apology after the resulting rightly awarded penalty was a grudgingly raised arm as he ambled back for the restart. He didn't look us in the eye and say sorry, and his sullen posturing as he was substituted later on just made things worse. And I haven't heard from him after the match, have you? He made himself look like a stupid old man. I know that Beagrie takes a decent corner; and that he might score from a free kick around the box. But we don't get enough set pieces; four corners and no shootable free kicks on Tuesday by my reckoning. On Tuesday the Town starting line up had no players under 25; six players over 30; and the average age of the team was 31. Three hundred and forty one years on this planet; over a hundred and fifty years footballing experience between them. Oh, hang on – that's just Beagrie. I'm sure he's regressing towards newtdom. But let's be clear – he is not a protected species.
On a much more comforting note, positive John Fenty has told us, via the gruesome Grimsby Telegraph, that: "We have to remain positive. Negativity coming over to the football team is not going to help matters." On the question of giving Mr Rodger the boot Mr Fenty lapsed into biz-speak: "It would be the wrong reaction to take assertive action now." As to whether Town should apply post neoclassical endogenous growth theory to solve the team's problems positive John apparently remained coy. On the performance against Hartlepool Mr Fenty is quoted as saying: "I felt we were arguably the better side against Hartlepool in the first half and then we had a penalty decision which I thought was unfortunate. That happens in football, you live or die by the decisions of the referee." So, I was wrong to think that Town were demotivated, deflated and demoralised after that moment of madness from Beagrie and that they more or less failed to show up for the second half which resulted in us going from bemoaning our luck not to be two up at half time to relief that we got away with a 4-1 thumping in the end. Take a deep breath now, GD.
Mr Rodger himself has also been talking to the Telegraph. Saying amongst other 'must bounce back' and 'we're playing well really' drivel that Isiaiaiah Rankin might recover for the Hereford game. Of the match tonight at Darlington Mr Rodger explains that he will be picking from the same squad. As regards the opponents: "In both games up there (Darlington) in the last two seasons, we felt we should have done better than a 1-0 defeat and a goalless draw. But they are decent and always make it tough for you. We expect a decent game but we need to grind out a result - like we did at Chester." Expect a five man midfield tonight then, gentle reader, for Mr Rodger will be desperate to get a point. The official site tells us though that Justin Whittle remains a slight doubt for tonight after picking up a knock and gloats in the fact that Joachim won't feature because of a hamstring strain.
Finally gentle reader, here is solace for you. Especially if you are a pedant like me. An article on the official site about the transfer window bestows upon it's readers a brilliant tutorial on how to lose your thread. The author tells us that: "For a club like Grimsby Town, there has been a four-fold effect of what the transfer window brings." OK then what are the four things? Well apparently the first is that other clubs are unwilling to let players go in case they can't replace them before the window closes (or they won't go to a club like Grimsby of course). Secondly (the article goes on to explain) if you are contemplating selling a player you might not let him go in case you can't replace him. Which you have to admit is kind of a mirror image of the first effect. As to effects three and four I leave it to you to scour the article to find them because I bloody couldn't. Answer on a postcard please. Let's hope we pick up a bit tonight. See yer.
Thursday 28 September
There isn't any news today, so it's a good job we have three emails to keep us going. The Diary is currently gripped, furthermore, by what is hopefully the tail-end of the worst hangover since France's 2002 World Cup campaign, so even if there were any news I'm not sure I'd make much of a job of reporting it. Over to you, then! Ooh, that exclamation mark hurt my head.
"Dear Diary," writes Loughborough Mariner, "I'm not sure I agree with you on the 'move Belle Vue to the east coast brick by brick' as it's one of the few grounds left in the Football League that
makes Blundell Park look palatial!!" Ow! "Still, there may be merit in your suggestion: if they bring the refreshment stalls over then at least we might get some of the marvellous pie and mushy peas they dish up there. Perhaps we could have a pie debate on the Diary (if I've not already missed one!). The best football pie I've ever had was at Norwich, but that was many
moons ago. Mmmm, it's making me hungry just thinking about it!" I'm not sure I could keep anything down just now, Loughborough, but in the Diary's book Deepdale is the place for pies: chunky, well filled, and with an excellent choice. Email email@example.com with your football/pastry preferences, people.
Dave the Engineer's email puts football in perspective. "After sitting thru Saturday's non-event I decided to attend another one on Tuesday: no, not the match - the Labour Party conference. Demonstrating for a pension lost 10 years ago when the company went bust, our march was ignored by the press, who can only report on Tone's farewell. On returning to dear old Louth after consuming some fine Jennings ale near to G-Mex, I am now concerned that when I eventually retire, with no pension, there will be no team to support either. Booo Rogers booo Blairs booo pensions." I'm sure all Diary readers will sympathise with the plight of their fellow Townite, who is one of thousands of workers thus robbed by governmental ineptitude and corporate greed. If John Fenty moved to 10 Downing Street, Tony Blair took over GTFC and a tree fell in Weelsby Woods, would anybody notice?
Today's last word comes from Pat Bell, who wishes to draw our attention to a sale of club merchandise to be held at Darlington's big empty ground just before their match against the Mariners tomorrow night. Reporting the event, one Darlo website uses the headline Massive clearance sale at DFC. "Sure there must be a joke in here somewhere, but I can't find it," reckons Pat. Well, it's a pity we're looking for a pun around DFC and DFS: had it been Shackleton's, we could have observed that Darlington have over 20,000 chairs to choose from.
That's it from me for the week, but come back tomorrow for Guest Diary's guest Diary - and whatever happens at the DFC showroom, don't let it get you down. I'm off back to bed. See yers! Ow.
Wednesday 27 September
Yesterday afternoon saw the announcement of Tony Thorpe's arrival at Blundell Park, approximately 4.09 seconds after the Diary was published. Lest you missed the fine details, Thorpe is now 32 and joins on loan from Conference stalwarts Stevenage Borough, where he has recently enjoyed the latest of a series of career-defining bust-ups with managers, teammates, chairmen and fans, restricting him to a mere three appearances for the Hertfordshire side since signing for them in the summer. He averaged more than a goal every two games for Luton and Bristol City when he was good in the late 1990s, but this flow had slowed to a trickle by last season, when he registered only one in 24 appearances for Swindon and Colchester. I've no idea if any of that stuff about bust-ups is true, by the way; I guess we'll find out when Cod Almighty publishes a player profile in a few days' time.
If there's a ten-pound note burning a hole in your pocket and your local homewares emporium is all out of chocolate fireguards, why not invest the cash in what is sure to be a much sought-after collectors' item in years to come? The DVD of Town's 4-1 home defeat by Hartlepool last night is available now to order online, and can only grow in value as Pools supporters assemble collections of specialist memorabilia related to the recent sequence of thrashings they have dished out to the Mariners. Each copy comes complete with an official teamsheet and programme, while postage and packing are included in the bargain price of just £9.99. This leaves you with one penny change from your tenner to put towards the cost of getting to Darlington and back the day after tomorrow.
From a penny to a Penney – former Doncaster manager Dave Penney, to be precise. Damn, I'm good. In the wake of last night's calamitous scoreline Loughborough Mariner has emailed the Diary to say: "Booo!", adding: "Let's start the 'bring Dave Penney to Grimsby' ball rolling now!" Loughborough admits to not having been at the game, "but booo anyway!" Well, with the signings of Nick Fenton and Ricky Ravenhill Town seem to be engaged in a project to reassemble Rovers' most recent successful team at Blundell Park, so if their manager turned up as well would anyone notice the difference? The real question, though, would be whether the Mariners' straitened circumstances might mean a scaling down of plans for the Fentydome – in which case GTFC could simply wait for Donny to move to their new ground and then move Belle Vue to the east coast brick by brick.
Tuesday 26 September
Is anything happening yet? Oh, there's a match tonight, isn't there. Town's official website will surely be the place to discover all the team news as Hartlepool hurtle down the east coast en route to this evening's encounter at Blundell Park, so let us see how the mouthpiece of the club can enlighten us. "Graham Rodger will make at least one change of personnel," reports the OS. Go on. "With Rodger now having cover for defensive and midfield positions, he may opt for a reshuffle in those departments." OK... can you be any more precise? "The Mariners chief is also tinkering with some changes up front too." That'll be a no then. What the fuck does "tinkering with some changes" mean, by the way?
The long and short of it is that Justin Whittle is playing but Andy Taylor could drop to the bench. Heh! Did you see what I did there? Oh, all right. Town still have three gaping absences up front in Isaiah Rankin, Gary Cohen and Luton's Michael Reddy; loan forward, er, what was his name again? Lawson. First name? Hang on... no, can't remember. Let's call him Nigella. Anyway, he might start in place of Taylor, given the inability of the Mariners' forward line to create anything presentable against Stockport last Saturday. The Grimsby Telegraph does a little better than the OS, leading today's sport section with the news that Peter Beagrie could reclaim a starting place against Pools, but I don't think they've put the story online yet so I can't link to it. Between the inadequacies of one website and another there lies a metaphor deeply buried, but the Diary has got soup cooking so you'll have to dig it out for yourselves.
With every new season that begins, Town's hopes of returning to the higher divisions seem to look more and more forlorn; the punditry of Mark Lawrenson becomes less and less useful to anyone at all; and the sponsored name of the Football League trophy grows ever more ridiculous. So diminished has the competition become – which was won gloriously by the Mariners in 1998 at Wembley in front of a record 62,432 spectators – that I forgot to mention that the draw for the first round took place last Saturday morning and paired Town with Lincoln in a match to be played in the week beginning 16 October and forgotten forever by the week beginning 23 October.
As members of Town's supporters' trust are aware, there is a vote going on as to whether the organisation should continue to buy shares in the club, in the hope of eventually securing supporter-owned status, or instead direct its resources towards supporting the club's youth system, in the hope that the more cash goes in the more likely we are to discover a new George Best or Jackie Bestall on the streets of North Somercotes. Despite the tone of the preceding sentence, and despite the comment made on John Pakey's email in yesterday's Diary, I'm not entirely sure what I think about this – so it is perhaps fitting that today's two emails on the subject make the case very well for both options. The first is from Chris Parrott, who writes: "I would urge all left thinking Trust members to heed your advice and vote for Option 1 [keep buying shares], as any other policy just delays the glorious day. All right-thinking members can do likewise – after all, the Blessed Margaret was the arch-proponent of share ownership by the masses (feel free to add your own quip about Town followership). For those mourning the passing of the Blair era, the third way would be to do a deal with Positive John whereby he lets the trust have a share for every pound it spends on the youth programme."
Sibbo, on the other hand, is an Option 2 kind of Diary reader. "Back in the 1980s some will remember Tony Ford, Kevin Drinkell, Kevin, Andy and Dave Moore, Gary Lund and perhaps others I've not thought of," he writes. "All local lads and playing their part in a successful period of GTFC history. The club made transfer money, especially from the two Kevins, when they left for pastures new. By bringing youth players through the ranks surely a club stands more chance of finding a gem or two along the way, rather than checking out x amount of trialists. Most of them will have already failed elsewhere. Perhaps finance comes into the equation but we all know false economy is no long-term answer. Although I'm sure supporter-owned clubs have been successful, this did not save Kidderminster Harriers from relegation to the Conference." Thanks to both Sibbo and Chris for making these excellent points – and whichever way we end up voting, we can't much argue with the bit about the trialists.
Monday 25 September
Is there really another match in about 30 hours' time?
Welcome to another week with the Diary, people, where we dot the 'i's, cross the 't's, fill in the gaps and point out the confusing arbitrary use of initial capital letters, all while struggling gamely to maintain some perspective on events at Grimsby Town Football Club. It is to gap-filling that we first turn our attention today, and the news that the Mariners have signed a new player – the gap being the club's official website, which has not reported the arrival of 17-year-old goalkeeper Kevin Morton from New Hartley Juniors FC. The filling comes courtesy of the News Post Leader, a local paper based in the north-east, which has very capably broken the news of Morton's transfer as well as listing a quite impressive collection of the player's fellow New Hartley alumni. These include a bloke called Bobby Cummings – not the former Mariners chopper, of course, who was christened Cumming and was called Cummings only by virtue of the same curious verbal tic that means a sizeable proportion of Town fans cannot correctly render the name of the club's current manager, Grahamses Rodgerseseseseses.
Can you remember Rory Patterson? He is a striker with FC United, who came for a trial with Town a bit ago and, unsurprisingly, went back to FC United at the end of it. In letting Rory go, though, the Mariners have spurned the chance not only to add a designer Irishman to their books but also to score fashionable goals from the halfway line, since that is precisely what the player contrived to do in a recent 4-2 win over Silsden. You can even watch it on Youtube, and it doesn't get much trendier than that.
"Ahoy!" is the fittingly nautical beginning of an email to the Diary from John Pakey, who continues: "Was just having a gawp through the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust newsletter (it was that or watch Ian Wright try and get some large abusive teenagers to do sit-ups) and was interested in seeing how it's asking members to find out what they think is the best route to take? It seems that Positive John is all too powerful for the trust's supporters share idea to actually make a real dent, so they are now talking about heading off down a different stream with the organisation. The one that does seem reasonably interesting and could be a better suggestion than trying to throw money at the taxman – the bastard – is to focus on the youth system. My local team, Colchester United, have looked after their youth system and they are now able to boast about five players (one the highly rated Greg Halford) who are all capable of third division football at the very least. So if you or any of the readers are trust members, I suggest voting for option 2 – to invest in the GTFC youth system. I intend to do so. And because it's a marathon and not a sprint I intend to go for life membership as well. What's the Diary's thoughts?" Dunno really, John, but if it's a marathon and not a sprint then maybe we should carry on buying shares, because if it takes 30 years to become a supporter-owned club then that might be preferable to never becoming one at all. Just a thought.
Saturday 23 September
A Town team missing three first-choice strikers in Isaiah Rankin, Gary Cohen and Luton's Michael Reddy looks predictably short of power up front in suffering the annual defeat to Stockport at Blundell Park this afternoon. Despite the momentum created by an ace early penalty save from Phil Barnes (awarded in error by Ray Lee, as anticipated by Cod Almighty's Refwatch earlier this week), the home side fail to capitalise on what little cohesive periods of attacking possession they can muster, and Keith Briggs' unstoppable 20-yarder 10 minutes before half time proves enough to hand the Hatters three points again. Ho hum.
Friday 22 September
Hi, Miss Guest Diary here again, looking forward to the weekend no matter what it brings on the Town front because it'll mean my working week is over. I attended a meeting this week about the new IT workflow system being developed and was there to represent 'the business' in a room full of business analysts and IT geeks. I only understood about one word in three, but I thought I bluffed my way through well enough, nodding and smiling in the right places. So imagine my horror when the action points came out and I was down to "prepare an approach paper for data cleaning using the generic steps". Now I know how footballers must feel when, having spent their entire career playing in a 4-4-2 formation, the new manager suddenly changes to 3-5-2 or some other new-fangled system. If anyone can suggest what the generic steps might be, I'll be eternally grateful.
Deciding to take my Diary responsibilities a little more seriously than previously, I went searching for some team news for tomorrow's game with Stockport. Going to Town's official webite, my eye was curiously attracted to this instead – let's hope their act is better than the spelling in the article. Oh, and the team news from the OS is that everyone's fit except Cohen and Reddy.
A trip to the Grimsby Telegraph produced only an article about "Rodger's Rookies", extolling the virtues of Bore and Taylor; while all the BBC could offer is that Mac2 has returned to Huddersfield. In desperation I googled "Grimsby team news" and got lots of news about last Saturday's clash with Chester, some about the previous week's game against Walsall and one amazing link to Sporting Life giving news of Town v Reading, at which point I gave up and decided to refer you to the excellent factfile on this very site.
I did follow up the last link and wallowed for a while in the nostalgia created by such headlines as "Ten Heuvel Wants Mariners Move", "Jevons Hopes to Renegotiate Contract" and "Cooke Set to Move On". This got me wondering where old news stories go – do they spend eternity floating around in cyberspace? Maybe news of Simon Ford's transfer to Kilmarnock has just reached Jupiter. I'm thinking that Sporting Life could do with some "generic steps" to clean up their data.
Darn it – just as I was about to sign off I decided to check the OS one more time and found that we have a new striker on loan from Southend. James Lawson is, according to a Southend fan "quite good, quite raw, tall, not too physical but got a good eye for goal." Let's hope he's got his eye in for tomorrow. Bye for now.
Thursday 21 September
In the grand scheme of footballing events that are not entirely unexpected, a defeat for the reserve team of Grimsby Town would rank somewhere between Brian Laws moaning about a referee and a Premiership manager taking a bung. So it is that the Mariners' second string - who are yet to record a victory since the end of the Boer War - crashed to a not entirely unexpected 4-0 defeat last night at the hands of affluent Humber rivals King$ton Communication$ FC. Town's official website does the usual thing about the trialist "showing some good touches", just like it always does when a trialist plays for the stiffs and is then quietly released, never to be heard from again.
It was the League Cup this week, in case you were trying not to notice, and so a brief trawl across the interweb's foully polluted waters today will land you with a Town-related reminiscence from should-have-been-England-manager Martin O'Neill, whose Aston Villa side beat Scunthorpe in the competition the other night. In the run-up to the match O'Neill told the Birmingham Post all about when his Leicester side were dumped out of the tournament as holders in 1997 by none other than the mightier-than-they-are-now Mariners. "To go out so meekly after fighting so hard to win the competition the previous year wasn't an experience I want to face or experience too often," recalls Mart, neglecting to mention that you don't get much more meek than conceding a goal off Steve Livingstone's arse.
It was that game, wasn't it?
Every bit as predictable as defeats for GTFC reserves are embarrassing mistakes by the GTFC website, and folk are positively queueing up this week to point them out and save the Diary a job. As we have already learned this week, the OS describes titchy Town starlet Andy Taylor as a 13-stone, six-foot-two striker and defender, and Sean Fieldsend has emailed the Diary to tell us more. "I decided to check out the squad list and couldn't help noticing we have two number 12s!" he writes. "Richard Ravenhill has made a solitary appearance for the club this season, whilst the other number twelve, Ricky Ravenhill, has made a whopping three and has also played for Chester this season. Maybe this is another example of cost cutting by Fenty? If we only buy players with the same name as ones we already have and then make them share a squad number then we can save money on shirt printing! Either that or it is just another example of our rather fabulous OS? You decide!" And while you're deciding, check out the new stock at "Tte GTFC Club Shop".
And there's more. "According to the OS," writes Liam Gallagher, "the reserves were 2-0 down at half time to an Atkinson strike and a Daryl Duffy brace. To me that makes three - unless Mr Duffy scored with his retainer? Sort it somebody."
You know what, though? It's too beautiful a day to let yourself get too worked up about football. Tomorrow I'm handing over to Miss Guest Diary for some pre-Stockport musings, but right now your regular Diary is off for a stroll down Meggies seafront in this glorious September sunshine, and might even be tempted by the prospect of a pint in Willy's. I suggest you do something similar as soon as you can. Ta-ta and thanks for reading!
Wednesday 20 September
The manhunt is over: Gary Harkins is alive, but hasn't been very well. One of Grahams Rodgerses's first signings for GTFC, Harkins was brought to the club in early July as part of a bid for the world record number of footballers called Gary registered to one club at any given time. He made five appearances but has failed to appear on the teamsheet for the four games since Town's defeat at Bury on 26 August – and, rather sadly for Gary, his absence went unremarked upon until brought to the attention of the global football community by the Diary earlier this week. Obligingly as ever, the Mariners' official website has now explained that yer man "has been ill and has not been training" but will return to the fray tonight, if there is much of a fray to return to in a reserve team game against King$ton Communication$ FC. The OS has yet to go into detail on other unexplained issues such as the premature termination of the Jarvis sponsorship, the reasons behind the military coup in Thailand and the possibility of life on other planets, so be sure to check back later in the week for more on these.
It may have been trendy once, but Town have clearly decided that having a player called Jermaine in your squad is so last season, and are now following the craze for all things celtic. Last week's trial defender Connor/Conor Rafferty having moved along to this season's early pacesetters in the fourth division, Wycombe, the club has moved quickly to bring in another with the same fashionably Irish forename. Connor/Conor Franklin is a left-sided full-back and "will spend a few days at Blundell Park", says the OS, possibly even lining up alongside the less modishly monikered Mr Harkins in tonight's aforementioned reserve game. Well, it'll probably be more "just behind and to the side of" than "alongside", but you catch my drift. Tom 'Three More Years' Newey is not reported to be losing sleep.
Those magnificent Mariners with their marketing schemes, they go "please bring a kid and it's only a quid". For this Saturday's home game against Stockport, though, they've introduced a novel twist whereby it's not a kid but some kids, and the club's official website is excited enough to be using initial capital letters on words that are even more randomly chosen than usual. "Any number of children can gain entry to Blundell Park for just £1 for the game as long as they are accompanied by at least One full paying responsible Adult," explains the OS, raising the possibility of a terrifying Pied Piper-type scenario making a hefty dent in Town's weekend gate receipts.
We remain with Town's official website as today's Diary ends with an email from Richard Bedwell, who has found the explanation for an inaccuracy exposed on this page yesterday. "Teamtalk probably thinks Master Taylor is a defender because he is listed as such on the OS," writes Bedders, "though it does call him a striker as well. He could be the next Livvo, but I'm pretty sure he isn't 6 foot 2 and 13 stone." Fingers crossed though, and he won't be the next Jermaine Palmer either.
Tuesday 19 September
As everyone in western Europe has been fully aware for some time now, Huddersfield Town Football Club are a bit strapped for fit and able central defenders at the moment. This is why, two weeks ago, the Terriers' manager Peter Jackson announced that Martin McIntosh would return to West Yorkshire when his loan with Grimsby came to an end on 17 September. It should come as a surprise to no-one, then, that Martin McIntosh returned to West Yorkshire when his loan with Grimsby came to an end on 17 September.
Mac2's departure leaves the Mariners with just two senior centre-halves on the books in Justin Whittle and Nick Fenton. Recent trialist Conor/Connor Rafferty has moved on to try his luck at Wycombe, reports today's Grimsby Telegraph, leaving 19-year-old Miles Chamberlain in line for a first-team debut should either become unavailable. The precedents are healthy this season, though, and if Chamberlain proves as promising as other recent youth team graduates then there should be little cause for worry – and news of the Mariners' exciting youngsters is reaching far and wide; well, as far and wide as Teamtalk, anyway. The notoriously inaccurate football news website of that name is running a tiny but touching little piece about Town's teenage sensations in which Peter Bore becomes a striker and Andy Taylor a defender. "Andy is always in my thoughts, while Peter has come in and set the world alight," swoons Grahams Rodgers, for a moment sounding more like Bridgets Joneses.
If you were planning to liven up your love life this evening with some hot reserve-on-reserve action, your hopes will fall limp with the news that the, er, stiffs' home defeat against King$ton Communication$ FC scheduled for this date is not gonna happen. Well, not tonight, Josephine. The match has been put back a day and will now kick off at 7pm on Wednesday, presumably to avoid clashing with a family fun day at Cleethorpes Boating Lake.
"I have just read today's Diary," begins an email from Ben Gresswell which was sent yesterday, so he means yesterday's Diary and isn't a clairvoyant, or if he is then he wasn't using his clairvoyant powers at that particular moment, "and felt saddened to read that Mr Diary doesn't have Sky. I suggest a collection be started so that the Diary can experience the wonders of this great arena of entertainment. Don't have Sky, eh? In this day and age? I suppose you will be telling us you don't have an iPod next? Boo hiss. Sort it Diary!" It's sad but it's true, Ben. Because of the damage done to my career by the necessity to bring you this daily montage of Mariners-related happenings and the ensuing loss of earnings, the Diary is not only unable to afford Sky but is also deprived of cars, holidays abroad and semi-detached housing, and instead of an iPod I have a little 256Mb mp3 player that holds four albums, or five if you compress them to a lower-quality bitrate. A further consequence of my penury is that I never get to see Soccer AM, so it's not all bad.
Monday 18 September
He signed in the summer. He made five appearances, one as a substitute. And then he disappeared from the teamsheet without a trace. As far as the club's supporters are aware, the playing registration of Gary Harkins remains with the Mariners, but the former Blackburn midfielder has been absent from the lists of 16 players called upon by Grahams Rodgers for his side's last three matches, and has not been named on Town's injury list at any time. It remains to be seen whether the club's marketing department is working on an innovative and fun new game designed to attract a new and young generation of supporters to Blundell Park, under the title "Where's Gary?"
Another recent development that has gone unreported by the club is the arrival of a goalkeeper on trial. The News Post Leader, a local newspaper based in the north-east, reported last week that Kevin Morton has been trying out for the Mariners for a little while, yet no mention of the news has yet been made by Town's official website – probably due to negligence but possibly to avoid Pontoon jeers of "Booooo Town, no ambition, giving a trial to the second-choice goalkeeper at Ashington FC of the Northern League!"
"Has Mr Diary been watching Big Ron Manager' on Sky One?" asks Danny Wignall in an email to Mr Diary. "It makes you think about what it might be like in the Town dressing room after our latest defeat. Rodgers'es giving the players an all-round rollocking and Justin
Whittle standing up and confronting 'the gaffer'. It's a top show and gives a real insight into how a footy team works behind closed doors but in the end just shows what we already know, that Barry Fry is an idiot." Well, Danny, Mr Diary doesn't have Sky, so I've not seen the programme, but it has just led to Fry stepping aside as chairman of Peterborough – so I imagine Peterborough fans must love it.
Saturday 16 September
For the fifth time this season Town play for 90 minutes away from home without scoring. Goals in second-half injury time from Gary Jones and Andy Taylor, however, give Grahams Rodgerses' side a jolly satisfying three points and the first victory in pigging ages for a travelling Mariners side - not to mention a first clean sheet home or away since the early paleolithic era. The three points lift Town to an altogether healthier 14th place in the league table. "Ricky Ravenhill became the first player to be booked innocuous challenge on 62 minutes," reports the club's official website, all the excitement having impaired its usual ability to render properly formed sentences of written English. Huzzah!
Friday 15 September
Hiya guys! Durham Diary here recovering gently from a truly enormous breakfast. Three chipolatas, three rashers of bacon, two rounds of toast, a full tin of beans and a pint of orange juice (with juicy bits). Which makes ten good items, and one missing from a nice round eleven. Step up Mr Barnes for a particularly cruel comparison to get today's opening paragraph sewn up.
One of the more solidly impressive Town players of late (one of the rounds of toast, if you will) has been Martin of McIntoshire. The OS reckons Tosh, as he's rather unfairly known, may not play for Town again since he's likely to be injured for the Chester game, the last to be played by Town before his initial one-month loan finishes. Interestingly, the OS claims Huddersfield might not want him to come on loan to us for another spell since they're "currently struggling with injuries and he may be needed to fill in". Yes, that's right: he's on loan with Town, but the club are very generously letting Huddersfield have their own player for a while to cover for injuries. Similarly the club will be performing a commendable community service for home games this season by allowing fans to remove the unpleasant weight of currency from their pockets before they spend a couple of hours watching largely disappointing football.
Which leads on nicely to this paragraph about admission fees for the next two home matches, namely those against Stockport and Hartlepool. And more precisely the fact that kids accompanied by a full-paying adult will be admitted for just one pound. So now I feel guilty for being so cynical, sour, and thoroughly negative in my previous two paragraphs today. Sorry guys. I've been in Grimsby too long. I'll be fine when I'm back at uni. As penance I'd like to put on record that I think this is a genuinely commendable move, and hope the club take more steps to encourage young (and usually highly vocal) supporters to attend matches throughout the season.
Town are away at Chester tomorrow. Beagrie is unlikely to play, while Bore and Toner might. Otherwise everyone's fit. Except for Reddy and Cohen obviously. And Ann Widdecombe; she's really not fit. But I wouldn't want to appear too chauvinistic, so we won't dwell. Ricky Ravenhill could be set to face the club he was with earlier this season; we'll just have to see. Everyone seems to be making positive noises around the club to the effect that things are slowly improving, but until we start winning lots of games in succession that's not a lot of use. Hope you all enjoy your weekend. Up the Mariners!
Thursday 14 September
Town's official website has found another way to spell the name of the club's current trialist, who took part, as anticipated, in yesterday's reserve practice match thing at Barnsley. The match was lost 3-1, the Mariners' goal having been scored by Danny North, but was not attended by Graham 'Rodgers' Rodger, who instead relied on an account given by his assistant Stuart Watkiss. "He said Connor did well," the embattled Mariners boss has told the Grimsby Telegraph encouragingly, adding that the former Wolves hopeful of that name played at centre-half but is also capable of filling a full-back role – which alone would seem to make him an appropriate addition to the current squad – and will hang around and train for another few days before Town decide that he isn't quite what they're looking for just now. The rather more minimal account of the match given on the club's OS confirms that Conor/Connor/Conner Rafferty "is said to have had a good run out"; well, if you can't win at football, you might as well try cricket.
Another man who can play at centre-half and full-back, and do so pretty well, is former Townie Matt Bloomer, and GTFC's website has added to its impressive record of misleading headlines in Blooms Back, introducing another minimal news item which tells us, disappointingly, that the player is "training with the Mariners during the week to save travel time to and from Cambridge". (Cambridge are the team he plays for now; it's assumed that you know that.) A cute touch, but unlikely to staunch the tidal wave of opposition goals that currently originate in Town's wide positions.
And that's about it for the week, save for the not-yet-world-altering news that Ben Higgins, who captained Town's youth team to that cup win last season, is off out on loan to Eastwood Town, who also recently had a lend of Alan Lamb and Miles Chamberlain. Neither club has yet confirmed whether Ben intends to visit the birthplace of DH Lawrence while he is in the area.
Before I step aside for tomorrow's guest diarist, then, there is unfinished business in this week's – heh! – burning debate on fire protection. On Tuesday, you may recall, Mark Wilson wondered aloud here whether Dean Brown had been smoking something when he bemoaned John Fenty's reluctance to build fire doors from the wrong kind of wood (it makes sense if you read it again). Dean has hit back, though, and is supported by Richard 'Bedders' Bedwell, who asks: "Not wishing to get into a cyber slanging match, but when was the last time Mark Wilson saw a stone fire door? This website has the British Woodworking Federation's lowdown on fire doors. Guess what they are made with? I suggest he reads The BWF Approved Fire Door Centre Complete Guide to Fire Door Assemblies (price £20 plus postage). Oh and up the Mariners!" In his own defence Dean explains that "wood isn't totally fireproof but certain wood has better fire protecting qualities", before launching into another series of outrageous allegations about Our Great and Infallible Chairman John's approach to health & safety. "Liked your comments on my adopted home city – keep up the good work," he concludes, proving that if all else fails, a cheap shot at Leeds never will. Just ask Sunderland.
Wednesday 13 September
What's that old saying? Another day, another defeat away from home without scoring a goal. The boos resounded accordingly round the away sections at Rochdale last night as Town suffered a 1-0 defeat – their 11th straight away game in the league without a win – but supporters more worthy of the name have managed to take some positives from the work of the side's central defence, central midfield and goalkeeper. The Mariners' problem, again, seemed to be in wide positions – a detail Grahams Rodgerses passed by in his hopeful post-match straw-clutching exercise. "I thought that we did more than enough on the night," lamented La Rodge to the club's official website. "Maybe not enough to have won the game, but as the away side I thought we did enough to come way [sic.] with a point." The manager's cause has not been helped, of course, by the unimpressive form of the striker he brought in on loan in time for last weekend's fixture against Walsall. What? Oh.
It's not all doom and gloom for Grezbo in the transfer market, though, as former Wolves defender Conor Rafferty is reporting for trial duty with GTFC today, reports Town's official website, misspelling his forename. The player is set to star for the Mariners in a private practice match at Barnsley, having failed a trial at Shrewsbury last month.
Rodgers'ses'es'es's predecessor Mr Russell 'I Could Get Any Female Off The Street' Slade, meanwhile, has been lording it up with the big nobs in the third division, and is hence the subject of a piece in the Daily Telegraph. Sadly for Sladey, his usual ability to explain himself intelligently and articulately appears to have deserted him during the interview, which ends in full-on Alan Latchley mode: "Life's about people. If it's not, then what is it about, because I don't know." Oooh, let's see... preparing your existing team for a crucial promotion play-off final rather than spending the week negotiating terms with a new club, maybe?
Tuesday 12 September
There is a first time for everything, and barring disaster between now and this evening Town will be playing at Rochdale without the fixture being postponed because of a waterlogged pitch. Indeed, the playing surface at Spotland is said to be in tip-top condition this season, having undergone... um... whatever it is that football pitches undergo to put them in tip-top condition. The same can not be said, of course, for Grahams Rodgerses'ses'es squad, with two important strikers injured and missing the first half of the season and – thanks to the club's official website for telling us – most of his efforts in the transfer market having come to naught. As if all of that were not cause enough to strengthen our Grimbarian pessimism, Peter Beagrie is reported to be doubtful for tonight's match with whatever it was that meant he had to be substituted in last Saturday's win over Walsall. If we wish to disown our gloomy birthright and consider our glass half full, on the other hand, we can take solace in the news that Martin McIntosh and Sir John McDermott are fit, not to mention the cheery tidings that likeable former Mariners defender Simon Ramsden – who scored his first goal for Dale in the corresponding fixture last season – is writhing in agony on the sidelines.
Paul Bolland has, as everyone knows, recently returned from abduction by aliens to reclaim his place in the Mariners' team from the poor robotic imitation that had replaced him in the meantime, and his considerable efforts in last weekend's victory have been recognised with a place in the Football League's fourth division team of the week thing. These teams are chosen by the Press Association, don't you know, so it's all dead proper journalism and not at all like Teamtalk, which is reporting that Macca "hobbled off during Saturday's 2-1 win against Walsall". Yeah, course he did, Teamtalk. Just like the match saw a healthy attendance, Peter Bore is nothing special really, and Gordon Brown had nothing to do with all that hoo-hah last week about getting rid of Tony Blair.
After his email quoting the News of the World was quoted here yesterday, Guest Diary wishes it to be known that he "does not buy or read" the Sunday shitrag of that name. "I got the info from the BBC sport gossip page," he explains, adding: "I did, however, buy a copy of the Morning Star a few weeks ago." Insert your own left-winger joke here.
Last up today is Mark Wilson, who seems to have found a fatal flaw in one of yesterday's emails to the Diary. "I don't know Dean Brown," he writes, "and I have nothing against him, but I do suspect that he was either under the influence of alcohol or mind-altering drugs when he tried to build a door with fireproof wood. Wood is flammable – that's why you have a wood-burning stove, as opposed to (say) a stone-burning stove." Mark's logic seems unimpeachable – until he asks of yesterday's correspondent: "Didn't he write The Da Vinci Code?" Dean Brown's email was, of course, much better written than The Da Vinci Code.
Monday 11 September
Arguably Town's player of the season so far, Isaiah Rankin has proved that his powers of perception match his footballing prowess by recognising where the club's real problem lies: with its fans. Groups of spectators at Blundell Park have recently decided that the best way to support the team through its troubled start to the 2006–07 campaign has been to abuse Gary Jones – whose 17 goals last season were crucial in taking the Mariners to the final of the promotion play-offs – and Rankin has found a suitably subtle way to have a dig back. Speaking to the Grimsby Telegraph after Saturday's ace victory over Walsall, the player enthused: "The win will give the place a lot of confidence," before slyly adding: "even the supporters". Don't miss tomorrow's edition, when Justin Whittle offers out the whole of row D of the Pontoon.
As you are doubtless aware, the Mariners are not currently blessed with a surfeit of centre-halves. Without the arrival of reinforcements, it would take only the return of Martin McIntosh to Huddersfield at the end of his loan and the slightest of twinges to Old Man Whittle for newborn defender Miles Chamberlain to be thrust helplessly into the world, mewling and puking in the nurse's arms. Accordingly, Town's official website has today addressed the question of McIntosh's departure. The site posted an item this morning explaining that reports of the player's immediate recall by the Terriers have been greatly exaggerated (did you see any reports of this? I know I didn't), and extended Mart's term at Blundell Park from a month to almost the whole season by revealing that "his loan deal with the Mariners is until at least 17th April". Then they changed it so it said "17th September" instead. So, no need to panic there.
"Derby want to sign Carl Asaba, who is a free agent after leaving Millwall and is currently training with Leeds." Depending on how much faith you are prepared to place in the News of the World, which reported thusly yesterday (and thanks are due to Guest Diary for emailing to tell me), Grahams McRodgerses will have to turn elsewhere in his search for a striker or strikers to cover for the injured-for-ages duo Gary Cohen and Luton's Michael Reddy. By the by, the Diary thought Radio Humberside's David 'What Would You Say To Us?' Burns made a good point on Saturday in asking whether it is in the manager's best interests for the club to be announcing details of all the players he has recently failed to acquire. Of course, he might have just been trying to wind up John Fenty some more – an activity in which his track record is second to none, despite the best efforts of the Diary – but if I were Rodge, I'd start worrying how the club was planning to embarrass me further and begging my mum not to tell the OS about the time I rode my tricycle naked round People's Park.
Time to look at your emails to the Diary now – and whether or not Dave Burns is winding up John Fenty, John Fenty has certainly wound up Dean Brown, whose desire to escape the nefarious influence of the Mariners supremo has driven him to the darkest and filthiest corner of the planet. Dean seems to have been in the employ of Positive John earlier in his life, and when Fenty became chairman he tore up his season ticket and fled. "Maybe I'm a coward for winding down my interest in Gy when he took over but I've known Fenty prior to this and he got upset when we used decent (fireproof) wood for an fire exit door because it cost more! So when he took over (here comes the rubbish pun!) I took the cheap option too and got out. Anyway etc etc etc I'm now happy working and living in Leeds, I'm sure Fenty will be spying on me with his super technology and is tracking me down!" Damning evidence against the chairman, then, whose enemies are not only driven to paranoia but reach so pitiful a state of emotional torment that they believe it possible to take pleasure from existence in the city of Leeds.
Saturday 9 September
Town build on the promising first-half performance against Macclesfield last weekend with a hard-fought 2-1 win over in-form Walsall at Blundell Park. Grahams Rodgerses's side begins strongly, but on nine minutes the hesitancy emanating from Phil Barnes again helps Town's opponents to a goal. Perhaps aided by a markedly less negative crowd, though, the Mariners continue to pass and move effectively, a much-improved Paul Bolland equalising shortly before the break. The visitors respond strongly, but Peter Bore pops up in the right place at the right time to head the winner midway through the second half. The Mariners rise six places to 15th in the fourth division league table, and despite their continued vulnerability to crosses there are signs that the patience requested by John Fenty earlier this week might be rewarded. So satisfying is this afternoon's performance, in fact, that Radio Humberside's post-match Football Forum fails to receive a single call from a Town fan. Today, at least, it seems there is literally nothing to moan about.
Friday 8 September
Your Guest Diarist has negotiated his way through life operating on the basis that if you know what level of pain to expect it becomes more easy to bear. A philosophy particularly relevant to life as a disciple of Grimsby Town FC, don't you think? Having watched the hip-scrapingly informative interview with Dave Moore on Mariners World the other day, it is very apparent that Mr Michael Reddy will be able to swing his lead (should he choose) for almost the forseeable future. The man has been cursed with long-running injuries in each of the last three seasons – his first at Town where he complained of a nagging injury almost as soon as he arrived; that important second one where we needed him to score a few more to blag us an ill-deserved promotion; and now this, his swansong year (before the Bosman kicks in), when he is unlikely to be fit until the approach of the January transfer window awakens him from his pleasant doze in front of daytime telly.
So we have Mr Reddy writing himself out of first team contention by insisting on a dodgy operation, and young Mr Cohen rubbing his patella muscle up the wrong way so badly that, according to Mr Moore, the surgeons said either rest it for six months or have an operation whereby the recuperation period is of similar length. The net result is that Town's striker options are a bit limited. Not the time for the Lump to lose confidence and form either. And a bit soon to have to rely on the young lad Taylor, who tried so hard on his brief debut.
The official site promised to tell us yesterday that they would reveal today two names that belong to two strikers that the club are talking about loaning. They delivered on their promise earlier this morning. Sadly, Ritchie Humphreys had already signed a loan deal taking him from Hartlepool to Port Vale. So that leaves the redoubtable Carl Asaba occupying number one position on Rodgerses' speed dial. Mr Asaba doesn't have a club he can call his own presently, but had a trial at Leeds in pre-season, during which he played against Town at Blundell Park. He also turned out for Hull reserves after apparently failing to impress Leeds. Asaba, in this case, was thought to be an unwitting pawn in the Tahgers' quest to play every journeyman striker who ever journeymanned in merry olde England.
"We have two loan targets," whispered Rodgerses to the official site. "They are Humphreys, Asaba and Chris Zebroski... No, we have three loan targets: Humphreys, Asaba, Zebroski and Nathan Jarman... Amongst our targets..." Young Master Zebroski is a right scamp, having allegedly glassed his skipper after a bust-up in an Austrian restaurant midway through Plymouth's pre-season tour – causing an injury that needed more than 100 stitches. His contract cancelled, Zebroski was advised that his future may lay at a club like Millwall, and there he has been a-trialling. Oh, until Millwall signed him, that is. The Telegraph appeared to go to press at about half nine this morning, so restricted itself to gloomily reporting: "And he has revealed trying to enlist more help in time for tomorrow's clash with enquiries made about Hartlepool's Ritchie Humphreys and free agent Carl Asaba. But with those two targets expected to move elsewhere, Rodger may have to stick with what he's got for the time being."
So Town are after a loan striker, but all the good ones have gone. In his Mariners World Walsall match preview interview, Mr Rodgerses equalled his own eyebrow-raising record. Despite intensive analysis it is proving difficult to establish any correlation between when they go up and, er, why they go up. I can feel a minor obsession coming on, gentle reader. In similar vein Sir John of McDermott is struggling still to understand why his leg sometimes hurts and sometimes doesn't. At least he has the sense to not want an operation on it. In other news it's anyone's guess whether Town try out a new midfield to match their new centre-halves, and the Telegraph tells us that Nick Fenton and Graham Rodgerses have worked out that (a) it's better to play well through the whole game; and (b) that it's better to be in front than behind. I'm off to mentally prepare myself for some serious pain tomorrow. See yer.
Thursday 7 September
Luton's efforts to secure a place in next season's Premiership have been hit by the news that star striker Luton's Michael Reddy will be out of action for up to three months. The player has been troubled with a hip problem for some months, but it was only this week that the Kenilworth Road physio team got round to sending him for an exploratory operation, which revealed a rough surface on the hip joint. Surgeons operated immediately to correct the problem and it is hoped that Reddy will rejoin the Hatters' promotion campaign before the crucial Christmas fixture programme.
As we know, GTFC have obligingly rearranged entire swathes of the season so that, rather than support the Mariners, people can go to half-arsed public 'fun' events at the Boating Lake and watch a team of shrugging millionaires pretending to represent their country at football. The campaign continues this Saturday with the lunchtime screening at Blundell Park of some Premiership bollocks or other, giving the malcontents more of the unreasonable yardstick by which they are wont to judge the current Town team. "Liverpool v Everton Live and Beer at a £1 per pint! [sic.] What more could you ask for?" blurts the club's official website. How about Grimsby Town FC live and beer at a £1 per pint? No? OK, I'll support another club then.
Just time, then, for a final bit of catching up on some of the emails you sent while I was away the other week (and the week before that). Our old chum Sibbo has written: "This is a late start to the season but after my computer woes I'm back on the web and have a bit of catching up to do. Still that appears to be the case with Grimsby Town Football Club, doesn't it? John McDermott a Time Lord! Where did all those years go? On the pitch Town haven't exactly played as a team. In fact against Crewe they didn't even play. That was the most disappointing part of it for me. At least last season we competed and made it hard for the opposition to settle into a rhythm. Except at Cardiff, when it mattered, of course. Even the infamous thrashing at Lincoln wasn't as bad (in my opinion). Maybe this season we'll sneak in on the rails and upset one of the early pacemakers. I don't want to be too critical at this stage as the new players need a few games to settle in but there's an awful lot of work to be done on the training ground and unfortunately I'm not the man for the job. So I'll have to rely on those with the responsibility and keep on paying my 15 squid for now." Well said, sir – and as Pat Bell notes in this week's Postbag, we had fewer points than now at this stage of the 1997–98 season. I think something quite good happened at the end of that year.
That's all from this part-timer for the current working week, but remember: lay off the boos, and a guest Diary is better than a guessed official website. T'ra!
Wednesday 6 September
Joe Waters, one of Town's best ever captains, is receiving treatment for cancer. The Irish international midfielder joined the Mariners from Leicester in 1976 and was a key figure in the team's ascent from the fourth to the second division in successive seasons from 1978 to 1980. After 65 goals in 357 mightily consistent appearances Waters eventually left for the USA, where he played for Tacoma Stars of Washington state in the Major Indoor Soccer League before taking up a coaching position at the nearby Bellarmine Preparatory School, becoming one of the most respected youth football coaches in the country. Both Town's website and Leicester's are inviting supporters to pass on their best wishes for his recovery.
Two slightly less fondly remembered figures at the Meadow Lane Retirement Home for Former Mariners experienced an all too typical mishap last weekend, the Diary has heard. Not long into their match against a team that should not exist, rookie referee Danny McDermid awarded Notts a penalty. Failed ex-Town forwards Jason Lee and Junior Mendes duly celebrated the decision, only for Lee to catch Mendes a painful poke in the eye. McDarmid – who ending up sending off two players and booking seven – changed his mind about the spot-kick, but could not undo the damage to poor Junior, who was so badly hurt that he had to be subbed off after 20 minutes. One is tempted to reflect that the careers of both players at Blundell Park might have endured a little longer had they exhibited such a deadly touch while wearing the other set of black and white stripes.
Town's new top-of-the-range tin cans have been used to good effect in recording a Mariners World interview with John Fenty this week. The gist is that no, it hasn't been a very good start but we ought to wait a bit and it'll get better, and yes, we did try to sign Alan Pouton and Georges Santos but Pouts couldn't agree a severance fee with Gillingham and Sants got a better offer. In 24 hours' time I'll have to write tomorrow's Diary, you know.
Grimsby Tim has emailed the Diary on the subject of the Grosvenor, pub of this Saturday's GTST open meeting and one-time alleged haunt of Mr A Gallimore, formerly of this parish. "Is this the very same pub whose postal address is in Cleethorpes, but is really in Humberston?" asks Tim. I dunno, mate – isn't Humberston part of Cleethorpes?
Lastly today, John Pakey continues this week's theme of pubs and ale. "I wish to bring to your attention the fine ale that is Mighty Oak brewery's Burntwood," he writes. "A really good beer, best served flat and straight from the cask if possible. It has a nice warm colour to it and is a perfectly poised 4%, making it ideal for session drinking. I'm no doubt going to quaff a bit of it at the Chappel Beer Festival on Friday night – that and proper cider, which is superb, while eating some
hog roast in beautiful north Essex scenery, fine way to end the summer. But my main issue is the north/south divide on serving beer with a sparkler, as I knew it in my days of pulling pints in the Hogshead in Lincoln, or flat, as I knew it in my days of pulling pints in the Hogshead
in Colchester. How does the Diary like it? Beer served, that is." I do like beer served, yes, but I've had to throw away the free pint voucher that came with my season ticket because it was impossible to get served at the bar under the Pontoon before the end of half time. Probably piss anyway, eh?
Tuesday 5 September
Stories about Curtis Woodhouse are everywhere now that the former Town midfielder is approaching his boxing debut, and the lesson is that footballers can actually say interesting things when they're not footballers any more. Last week we discovered just how thoroughly sick of football Curt was during the weeks in which he played a key role in the Mariners' failed recent bid for promotion. Today, courtesy of an interview in the Guardian, we can finally stop worrying over the mental state of the players who failed in Cardiff back in May, because they all went out afterwards and had the time of their lives. "At the end the dressing room was deathly quiet and some lads were crying," reveals the welterweight. "Football's strange, though, because the mood of a team changes very quickly. After a shower and a few beers we had a great night together. I can't even remember what time I rolled in the next morning." Gives you a lovely warm glow, doesn't it. Just remind me how much those tickets cost.
We like Martin McIntosh, don't we. Shame he's going back to Huddersfield in two weeks.
As President Blair ponders a farewell stadium tour – with celebrated tax avoiders the Rolling Stones rumoured to be lined up as the support act – Chairman Fenty is urging Town fans to stay put and keep faith in Grahamsssss Rodgerssss, the man he believed supporters would be delighted to see get the manager's job at BP. The Mariners' ropey start to the season has had Grimbarians grumbling like John Prescott's tummy after a dodgy Hull curry, and Positive John has told the redesigned (further downmarket) Grimsby Telegraph: "I am pleading with the fans to be patient and stick with us. It isn't all going to happen overnight. The team is trying to play more football. My message to the doubters is to judge us in three or four months' time." Alas, for those born within sight of the Dock Tower, every season is a winter of discontent; and if Town are top of the table in three or four months' time playing football that would make Arsenal weep with envy, the fans will be threatening not to renew their season tickets because the sky above Blundell Park is the wrong shade of blue.
Speaking of the Fentydome, which we were yesterday, does anyone remember the GTFC New Stadium website? GTFC evidently don't, because it hasn't been updated for seven months. "The announcement about the new stadium... shows the club is going in the right direction," says Russell Slade. Nice to know he cares.
One way to deal with Town's poor form is, of course, to take a leaf out of Curtis Woodhouse's book – not by beating the living shit out of somebody, of course, but by drinking yourself into oblivion! What a good thing it is, then, that this page debated the merits of various beers while I was away recently, and an even better thing that some of the emails accumulated during my absence do likewise. "Dear Sir," begins Tom Allen, who is either very polite or believes the Diary is John McDermott. "Have you tried Jennings bitter from Cockermouth in Cumbria? I recommend the brewery tour. The beer used to help drown many a sorrowful night after watching Workington reds." Yes Tom, and very nice it is too. Enjoy it while you can, though, because the Jennings brewery was bought by Wolverhampton & Dudley a year ago and will probably end up brewing that vile Banks's stuff instead.
Felix Oliver-Tasker, probably the poshest-named Town fan in the world, has also contributed on this tasty topic. "We in the Reading area are quite fortunate in that there are half a dozen or so excellent breweries within a 20-mile radius of the town," he writes. "Admittedly they are effete, poncy southern breweries which can't compete with those in the north but in their own quiet way are really quite good. The West Berkshire Brewery makes excellent beer; in fact Maggs Magnificent Mild is superb. We've got the Lodden brewery just down the road which makes Ferryman's Gold and Mayfly, both of which are very good, and not too far off in Mapledurham there's Butlers. Butts Barbus Barbus is good too and Hogs Back at Tongham brew TEA, which is also good. Of course I must mention the greatest laxative known to man, Felch and Bart's Old Bog Filler. The company motto is 'the bigger the bog the better'. So when Sister Jocasta Bumm-ffondle and I feel the urge for something wet and stimulating in our mouths, we get down to the probably best backstreet boozer west of the Pecos River and get stuck into some brilliant southern beers. When Town and Reading meet in the Conference we'll get together and sink a few. As far as Town is concerned, the way they are playing now it could be sooner than we think."
Monday 4 September
Hello, and welcome. This is your regular Diary reporting back after an extended period of absence caused by illness, stress, existential anxiety and, worst of all, work. As the leading writer of the Diary, who kept this page going with a series of outstanding performances last season, I expect my return to be greeted with a chorus of boos by the Mariners faithful.
What have we learned from the draw against Macclesfield? We have learned that Danny Boshell is ace, that some Town fans lead the world in the search for new and innovative ways to embarrass their fellow supporters and demotivate their own players, and that Friday football is shit. Some of the above we may have known already, but it never hurts to be reminded. I can cope with crap results; it's just the crap fans that make me feel like jacking the whole thing in.
So the transfer deadline came and went and, rather than stretching out on a three-piece suite of defender, midfielder and striker, Raham Grodgers had to content himself with the footstool of Red Card Ricky Ravenhill. Before we start calling for him to be sacked, drawn and quartered, though, let us remember that Football League clubs remain free to get players in on loan outside the transfer window and, wouldn't you know it, that's exactly what Town's beleaguered manager is planning to do. "We will be looking to get a player in on loan," Grodge has told the official website. Said player will be a forward, allowing for the injuries carried by Gary Cohen and Luton's Michael Reddy, who is having exploratory surgery today on his troublesome groin, or hip, or whatever it is. Said forward will not be Jermaine McSporran, adds Rodgerses, because he has turned into a midfielder. Wha'ever.
Let us cross our fingers, meanwhile, for the health of Town's central defence – and for an extension to the loan of Mac2 – because the young reserve centre-half most likely to step up to the first team, Miles Chamberlain, is badly injured. How do we know this? Not from Town's official website; not from the Grimsby press; but from the Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser, the local paper of Eastwood Town FC, where Milo spent some of last season on loan. "Miles picked up a nasty injury after signing a six-month contract at Grimsby and is still limping badly. If things don't pan out for the youngster, he has promised Paul first refusal on his services," reports the Nottinghamshire rag, flagrantly misusing the phrase "pan out". That's Paul as in the manager of Eastwood Town, Paul Cox, by the way; not the apostle of Christ and author of the books of Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, First Thessalonians, Philemon and many more.
In an effort to make its board more accessible to fans, Grimsby Town Supporters Trust is to hold a meeting this Saturday evening and is inviting the whole town. The event is to take place at 6pm, an hour after the end of the Mariners' game against Walsall, at the Grosvenor pub in Cleethorpes. Organisers are hoping that the open meeting will be attended by both members and non-members, though possibly not Tony Gallimore.
The Diary's heart is gladdened by the hundreds of emails that poured in while I was away. The Diary's heart is a bit less gladdened by the fact that most of them were trying to sell me Viagra or online casinos, but you've got to take what you can get. Richard Bedwell was moved to write in response to an email from David Elsey, way back on 23 August, about turning the BP pitch through 90 degrees instead of building the Fentydome. Bedders is unconvinced: "Demolishing the Main Stand and turning the pitch doesn't leave much room before you reach the railway line," he writes. "Though if you extended the pitch a bit more and build the stand beyond the railway and invested in a couple of very large crossing gates, you might be on a winner, as you could shut them every time Town were defending the North Sea end." But could the gates be pushed up front to get their head on the end of set pieces? Anyway, let us remember that the Fentydome will mean a gateway to Grimsby and a boost to the literacy skills of local children, not to mention an end to global terrorism and a platform to leverage some synergistic benchmarking paradigms. The days are long gone when a football ground actually had anything to do with football.
That's just about all I've got the energy for today. Thanks for reading, and I'll try and catch up with more of your emails on Tuesday. It's nice to be back. T'ra!
Friday 1 September
Hi guys! Durham Diary here, trying desperately to explain to you the things I really don't understand myself. So apologies if you don't have a clue what I'm on about. Please keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times. Hope you enjoy the ride.
What do moths, burglars, and the smell of fresh horse excrement spread on the fields have in common? Easy - they all come in through the window and you'd really rather they didn't. Depending on your point of view you might add Ricky Ravenhill to that little list, after the midfielder signed for £5,000 from Doncaster on the final day of the transfer window yesterday. Ravenhill, who has been on loan at Chester this season, has made 162 starts and 112 substitute appearances in his career to date, during which time he has amassed a worrying five red and 36 yellow cards. And he won't play against Macclesfield tonight due to being suspended for the most recent of those red 'uns. That's the bad news.
Now let's apply some positive spin, which is something we did about in the particle theory topic of my physics A-level. Not that Ravenhill has anything to do with that at all, unless he drives a Proton, I suppose. What I'm getting round to telling you is that Chester had to release Jermaine McSporran, Freddy Potter and Adam Wade yesterday to get their wage bill down below the stipulated 60 per cent of their turnover. And Chester boss Mark Wright really wanted to sign Ravenhill permanently, but was not allowed to do so because of the wage cap thingy. And despite, or perhaps because of, their mismanagement of the money situation, they'd agreed a five-figure sum with Doncaster, which means the £5,000 we paid was a bargain. So there you have it: positive spin that Alistair Campbell, Johnnie McFenty, Mr Beverley my old physics teacher and Monty Panesar would all be proud of. Which I guess is probably the good news.
Oh, and the Chester Chronicle reckons we're going to sign that McSporran fellow as well, but in true Ted and Ralph style, "I wouldn't know about that, sir."
Every time I visited Town's official website over the summer I was invited to watch "highlights" (I can only presume they were being ironic) from the play-off final defeat. Which I really didn't want to do. And every time I've visited Town's official website this week I've been invited to watch highlights from the 3-0 drubbing by Bury last weekend. At least since Town are playing tonight and not tomorrow that's one day less that the aforementioned disaster will be listed as our most recent game. As alluded to in today's second paragraph, Town will face Macclesfield at home tonight aiming to halt their alarming run of recent results. Flowin' Cohen won't play, His Holiness McDermott faces a fitness test before the game, and everyone else is available if selected.
Which is very nearly all I'm going to tell you today. Geographically challenged but financially gifted business-type people have set up a corporate effort between the club and the Derbyshire Building Society, but I really don't understand and I don't have any money to invest anyway, so I'll shut up. See you all at the game.