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Diary - June 2007
Friday 29 June
It's hard enough getting promotion at any level. But when you discover that there is a glass ceiling because your ground is not deemed up to scratch, it must be incredibly frustrating. Ask fans and players of Grimsby Borough, whose plight was reported in yesterday's Telegraph. The Borough have earned three promotions in the last four seasons but only went up once due to their 'inadequate' ground facilities. Which is laughable really because the beauty of football is supposed to be the fact that all you need is a field, some players and a football. Yes, posts and nets are nice but a few woolly jumpers and a sporting attitude can be a workable substitute. Well, it was in my day.
And Stacy Coldicott reckons that we should be watching teams like Borough because they may feature players who should have made it. Stacy and his mate Mark Cund have set up a very laudable website to facilitate the scouting of non-League talent. And if you fancy a quiz that makes a change from the rather statto-based CA questions then try working out who are the professional scouts Stacy has enlisted to help him on his quest. Our much-missed yard dog turns out for Grantham Town nowadays so it will be great if he plays for them against Town in the pre-season friendly on 17 July. By the way, if you were daft enough to click through to the official site via that last link, you might have noticed the soft lads who write their copy have got us playing Gainsborough that evening. Believe me, it's Grantham.
It is in this third paragraph that your Guest Diarist should be raging at the completely crazy match commentary lash-up that Town have ended up in. Again. Last season I was cross at Radio Humberside, who appeared to me to be sneering at Town's reduced league circumstances. Not Mr Burns's finest hour. This season it would seem that the club has become obsessed with the perceived revenue opportunities from increased Mariners World subscriptions. But to go down that route necessitates investment in professional standard commentary teams. Don't forget that vital fact, Mr Fenty. And the casual listener will never get to hear the Town goals going in. Did anyone ever become a Town fan because John Tondeur excited them on the radio? The cynic may sneer at that but you, gentle reader, I hope, have enough romance in your soul to think so. Think about my old Mum, Mr Fenty. She's eighty and never even seen a computer except at my house. But she likes to find out how Town are getting on, and the radio commentaries kept her involved with the club. Now she will have to fiddle with Ceefax, I suppose. Do Town only want fans who buy tickets and subscriptions and bid on daft memorabilia auctions? Probably, but how did football get in this mess? It's a long way from jumpers for goalposts. See yer.
Thursday 28 June
If history is cyclical, and everything repeats itself, then Gordon Brown will barely last five minutes before shattering his reputation forever by unquestioningly following the Americans into an ill-advised military adventure in the Middle East, and Grimsby Town Football Club will shortly have another row with BBC Radio Humberside about the rights to broadcast commentary on their matches. Oh look they are already. Clearly bored with not having alienated any influential local media for a few weeks, Mariners bosses have decided enough is enough and launched a re-run of last season's dust-up with the Beeb, which should keep them going until they can pick a fight with the weather presenters off Look North or work out how to slash Geoff Ford's car tyres without being spotted. A statement on the official website says: "Unfortunately the club has been unable to negotiate any radio deal for 2007/08 that includes all away game commentaries, and as such immediately took measures to make sure that there would be a way for Grimsby Town fans to keep up-to-date with all the match action", for which read "we're trying to coin it in out of the hopeless Mariners World service by deliberately pricing out the BBC so that we'll have the fans over a barrel with their sorry cheeks spread wide".
It remains to be seen whether the BBC will stick to its guns, but for sheer determination Radio Humberside bosses will be hard pressed to match the Grimsby Telegraph. Undeterred by the failure of two previous petitions to have John McDermott awarded an MBE or one of the other queeny bauble- type things, the local paper has set up a third such campaign. Fans are already flocking to add their names, claims the paper despite its report not actually giving a working link to the online petition and some have sent comments to the Telegraph in support of the former Mariners right-back. "Macca would be a far more deserving recipient than Salman Rushdie," opines Steve of Grimsby, before going on to endorse the school of criticism that post-structuralist readings of Midnight's Children reveal a quintessential ideological aporia in its counter-colonialist subtexts.
Mark Wilson has emailed the Diary to comment on yesterday's story about Ashley Sestanovich's award of £10,000 in unpaid wages. "If you substitute the words 'convicted criminal' for 'wanker', Crawley's statement could just about sum up most supporters' view of Sestanovitch's time at Grimsby," he writes. Indeed but it was Grays Athletic, Mark, not Crawley. You're getting one convicted criminal mixed up with another.
Wednesday 27 June
Jamie Lawrence, Curtis Woodhouse and John Fenty may all have been found guilty of offences by the courts of law, but Fenty at least managed not to injure anyone while he was ignoring the speed limit, and Terrell Forbes was acquitted altogether. The catalogue of felonies by personnel recently associated with Grimsby Town Football Club could be worse, though Ashley Sestanovich has done his level best to make it so. The 2004 Mariners loanee was infamously convicted last December of conspiracy to rob, having taken part in the planning of a 2005 theft at a London roofing firm in which a man was murdered, and is in the headlines again this week as the FA has forced Grays Athletic to hand Sestanovich £10,000 in unpaid wages. When the player's precarious legal situation became clear to Grays officials in July 2006 they terminated the player's contract only a month after signing him but an FA disciplinary panel has ruled that the club must fork out for the five months of it that remained. "It sticks in our craw to have to pay a substantial amount of money to a convicted criminal who did nothing for this football club," says a statement from Athletic, and a lot of people will sympathise.
If Alan Buckley's Grimsby Town team is currently riding a wave of optimism, then so is Stuart Watkiss's. The Mariners' assistant boss is credited by many fans with transforming the fortunes of the club's reserve side and with it, perhaps, the careers of many of its young players since taking over the role last year (the other fans preferring to ignore his exemplary record at Blundell Park and Mansfield in favour of sulking and muttering darkly about Kidderminster). With Peter Bore, Danny North, Andy Taylor and Ryan Bennett having recently graduated from the youth and reserve sides to the first team squad, much attention will focus on the performances of the second string next season. That's the context; now here's the content: the fixtures for next season's Hi-De-Hi Holidays League have been published, and the club's official website gives a complete list, which will be updated until October or November and then forgotten about for the rest of the season.
Today's email to the Diary comes from crack match reporter Tony Butcher, who has a bone to pick with the Quiz, but the Quiz doesn't have an email address. Our Tone has been busy finding fault with the final set of questions in this website's current end-of-season quiz thingummy and when I say busy I mean, you know, hyperactive. "In the final set, question 1 does not have an option for the correct answer," he rages. "The answer should be 22 minutes, as James Lawson entered the pitch in the 68th minute against Stockport County. How can we go on with this? And another thing: Ricky Ravenhill made 21 appearances, not 20." Boooo, sort it, Quizzes! That said, TB has been the only participant to have emailed on this issue. Far be it from the Diary to suggest that he has a competitive streak to match his capacity for Beatles and Spinal Tap references; let's just say he'd like his score to go up to 11.
Tuesday 26 June
Bit wet, i'n't it? Still, as any accountant will tell you, Sheffield Wednesday never were very good at keeping their heads above water.
When they're not switching football matches to times when people don't want to watch them, there's nothing the sharp minds at Blundell Park enjoy more than cooking up another ingenious scheme to bring much-needed cash into the club coffers. And, let's face it, when you're a fourth division side paying £3,500 a month to players' agents you need all the ingenious schemes you can get. The latest of these, consumers, is the now-annual internet auction whereby supporters can bag themselves a token place in the squad and official team photo. Rumours of an improved financial situation at GTFC may have been premature, as this year no fewer than five places are available, though the increased revenue brought in by this venture is likely to be offset to large extent by the need to invest in a new wide-angle camera lens.
Speaking of fixture rearrangements, Diary readers will recall that Town's two matches with Lincoln next season were switched last week to one o'clock kick offs, at the request of local police, to make it less likely that people going to the match will hit each other. So great is the risk of mutual hitting, though what with Grimsby and Lincoln being only 40 miles apart that the fixture at Sincil Bank on 22 September has now been moved by another hour so that it will kick off at noon instead. The Diary is left wondering why the authorities are still taking outrageous risks by allowing the game to begin at all during normal waking hours, and whether it might not simply be safer for all concerned to kick off at four o'clock in the morning.
The question of Town's newly revealed schedule for the 200708 season has inspired Rufus Murphy to email the Diary. "Now that the fixtures for next season have been announced (albeit firmly on the leash of the infamous Football DataCo)," he writes, "I am sure, like me, you look forward to that nice glossy printed gatefold fixture list published by those nice people in the publicity department at GTFC. Last year, as you may recall, it featured a pleasing picture of Gary Croft and Luton's Michael Reddy on the front players who were, by the end of the season, to find themselves in receipt of their P45s. The previous year it was Martin Gritton, also now making his way to Macclesfield via Abbey Road and Lincoln. So who's for the chop this year? As I said, I await the fixture listing with bated breath..." It's an interesting issue, Rufus; thanks for bringing it to our attention. If being depicted on the official fixture card is a guarantee that one's services will be dispensed with shortly afterwards, the Diary's money is on the flood warning personnel at North East Lincolnshire Council.
Monday 25 June
How do! Welcome to another wet Monday with the Diary. Thierry Henry having finally left for Spain after several summers of interminable rumours to that effect, the attention of the global football media looks set to turn to whether Stoke starlet Martin Paterson can resist the unparalleled glamour and wealth on offer to him in Cleethorpes. Paterson, of course, enjoyed a successful loan spell with Grimsby Town last season, and before he even left the pitch after his spectacular debut against Accrington last November excited local supporters could be heard to exclaim "yeh, 'e's alright, innee?", "yeh, could do wi' keeping 'im!" and "nerrr, 'e's too bloody good for us". Mariners boss Lord Alan Buckley has made little secret of his wish to bring the player back next season, and the latest, declares the club's official website, is that the player "will make a decision on his future next week after he has spoken to Potter's boss Tony Pulis", which is a little surprising, as the Diary always thought Potter's boss was Albus Dumbledore.
Today's other item of note on the OS is a briskly enjoyable little tκte-ΰ-tκte with Danny Boshell. One of last season's star performers in the Town midfield, Bosh admits "it was a little strange playing left-back" in his one poor display for the Mariners thus far. A pleasingly informal exchange finds the player discussing his long-time friendship with Paul Bolland ("He went to Notts and started talking posh") and what he's been up to since the season ended: "I've had a week in Majorca... ten days in Portugal too". Two holidays? Bloody Nora how much are we paying 'em?
Diary reader Roger Forman was kind enough to email last week with some advice about my boiler, which may have switched itself off this morning halfway through my shower but at least filled up a bit of space on this page last week when there was no news to report. "I had the same issue a couple of years ago," he writes, "and the control panel needed replacing at cost of £200ish. This is a common fault with Potterton boilers especially, and has even appeared on Watchdog." Thanks Roger. On the one hand, at least it's happened in the summer instead of the winter; on the other, the summer is when we renew our season tickets at a cost of £300ish, so it's going to be cold water chez Diary for a few more weeks yet. Mike Harrison's email puts it all in perspective though: "No doubt you will be mentioning this event so here's a link to save you the bother while you try and fix the boiler. It just shows what can happen even without the illegal shenanigans of our neighbours in south Lincs. A club with such a long history disappears and it could so easily have been us. Very sad." Indeed, Mike. Shall we blame it all on Russell Slade?
"Sorry to argue," writes Martyn Wyburn, arguing with something Leeds Diary wrote last Thursday, "but smoking doesn't soothe the nerves it increases your heartbeat and often stimulates the release of adrenaline and is a very bad thing!" So with England's imminent smoking-in-public-places ban set to cause apoplexy in right-wing libertarians everywhere (I expect it's political correctness gone mad, like everything else they don't agree with), and not actually soothing the nerves anyway, how will you be keeping calm while watching the Mariners next season, readers? Email email@example.com with anything legal you can think of!
Friday 22 June
It was just last week that your Guest Diarist paraphrased Lord Buckley about there not being a need to panic. In a world where every accident is a disaster, every outbreak a pandemic, and every shortfall a catastrophic failing, the sin of only having 19 senior players on the books towards the end of June seems less of a peccancy and more of a minor bleeding triumph actually. Lord Buckley has returned to the theme in an interview with the Telewag, saying: "I think I have a good nucleus already for next season. I am looking around but it isn't always about that sometime you get the best out of what you've got. I go back to when I was here in the past and we had the likes of Tony Rees, Gary Childs and Dave Gilbert. They may not have been players fancied at other clubs at the level we were at but we got the best out of them and what good players they were for us. We can do that again I'm sure with some of the players we have here." At this point I drifted off in to a positively Reesian fantasy filled with subtle back-heels and small men with big hearts, until a tame shot jerked me back to reality. No, it wasn't about goals so much: it was all about build-up play. And maybe it will be again as Lord Buckley continues to espouse passing and movement to a new generation of Town players ones that we can actually recognise from last season.
The news that many of us dread has arrived with the inevitability of an inevitable thing. The Telegraph tells us that the Saturday game away at Wrexham has "been brought forward twenty four hours". This is because of a Welsh rugby game. If nits are to be picked, it has been brought forward, erm, eighteen and three quarter hours to 7:45pm. The home game on 13 October against Rochdale will be now on the Friday night as well because of England playing on the Saturday.
It seems to be rather de rigeur to talk about the Glastonbury festival this weekend. [The Spiral Scratch all-dayer tomorrow will piss all over it ed.] Even the Today programme has a camper van studio on site, and it would seem that media, celebrities, and blokes who are 'with the bass player' will outnumber ordinary fans by almost two to one. In fact, in a few years' time, if you are ordinary you may well find yourself being famous for just that. An interesting concept but one that I will not be pursuing later, I suspect. I went to Glastonbury myself but it is not a vintage memory. In fact it can be summed up quite tersely. Day one: too much acid. Day two: too much scrumpy. Day three: Sky. And day three was the worst by a street. Pompous classical prog rock. One of these days, gentle reader, I will tell you tales from Bardney. But not yet, you may be relieved to hear. The only good thing left about Glastonbury is that the ale is supplied and served by the Workers Beer Company. And in a vaguely similar concept it is nice to see that Accrington Stanley have bought a new pub rather than someone else's cast-off player. And I bet they let you in the Crown wearing jeans and any kind of footwear you bloody like. Mind you, if you are planning your wake (like Blanche on Corrie), why not try the special wake package at McMenemy's? Weirdly, the example menu includes sandwiches with roast or new potatoes. Sorry it's raining again and I've got washing out. See yer.
Thursday 21 June
It's 12:28pm, and my mobile phone has chirped into life. Turns out the Diary has got those interweb gremlins again. Not that he's missing much, in another slow-burning space-filling day in the world of Grimsby Town FC.
The Grimmo Telegraph's Town news is Stuart 'Stu' Watkiss sayin' it was a joy working with all the youngsters last season, and 'wants to keep the conveyor belt of talent rolling'. "The ethos of the club is right at the minute," he ends, nodding sagely, stroking his chin, and then adjusting his tunic.
The club reminds us now a good six weeks before the start of the season that the upcoming ban on smoking in public places also extends to those visiting Blundell Park. Rather than give their own opinion, Town copy and paste a statement from Lord Mawhinney, chairman of the Footy League: "We aim to get more families and more young fans going along to watch their local Football League club. This new policy will ensure that doing so does not have a negative effect on their health." Does he not know smoking soothes the nerves?
"Who does Whitts think will to League 2 at the end of the season?" is the latest malformed question on the official site's fingertips. Luckily Justin Whittle seems to know what they mean: "I wouldn't like to say. Hopefully we will be right up there." The Sarge also reveals that spending a lot of cash doesn't guarantee you success, Peterborough: "[They] have spent a lot of money... maybe they will be up there." And how's he been spending his time away from footie? "I did take the kids to Euro Disney for a week. Chucked it down all week but we still managed to have a great time." Given the weather forecast for the next few days we could all learn from that. T'ra!
Wednesday 20 June
After GTFC waved farewells of varying regret to Rob Jones and Steve Mildenhall this time last year, Terrell Forbes and Jason Crowe 12 months earlier, and Mike Edwards, Phil Jevons and Stuart Campbell back in 2004, the summer of 2007 is notable as the first for several years in which the Mariners have not lost any of the players they wanted to hang on to (unless you count the loss to injury of Luton's Michael Reddy). This is despite persistent rumours linking midfield linchpin Paul Bolland with a switch to his hometown club Bradford City, who will line up alongside the Mariners in the fourth division next season. Since moving to Blundell Park from Notts County two years ago, Bolly has had such a blast in Cleethorpes that early last season he signed a new contract extended to 2009, and is quoted in today's Grimsby Telegraph "laughing off" the talk of a switch to West Yorkshire, where he moved back recently "for family reasons". "Just because I live in the area again, it doesn't mean anything," the player explains to the local paper great news for Town fans, which could be improved only by downloadable footage of Bolland literally laughing off the rumours, ideally in the actual faces of the people who started them off on the internet. Interspersed with images of Ken Bates having his fingernails painfully removed whole.
With nobody leaving and nobody coming in, the Telegraph is otherwise as desperate for a story as the Diary has been all week, and while the Riby Square Thunderer runs a so-what filler story about former Town loanee Iffy Onuora returning to Gillingham, the Diary's looser remit and non-commercial editorial imperatives allow me to discuss matters of even less immediate relevance to the fortunes of the Mariners such as why my central heating/hot water boiler isn't working properly. "Can't help you with the boiler," writes Martyn Wyburn in an email to the Diary, "but I changed my bath taps last weekend without flooding the house (quite an achievement for me!). I know this is no help to you whatsoever but you did ask people to share their skills!"
Thanks, Martyn and well done! Paul Wright, who says he is "almost a plumber, albeit lacking the practical skills necessary for such a title" suggests hard water and limescale may be to blame, while Sιan Carr suspects that "dust and dirt around the vents" may be extinguishing the pilot light. The wiring in Ed Fleet's boiler was shorted out by rainwater blown into it during last week's heavy rain, but it can't be that because my boiler's been playing up for about a month; and John Stephenson reckons it's the printed circuit board, "which is the most expensive item to replace not much change out of £300". The PCB is fairly new, as it goes: we had to replace that quite recently. It's not a Potterton, no it's a Europa 24 combi (which a quick Googling suggests is "the cheapest of the cheap"). I twiddled something yesterday and there's plenty of water coming out now, but the flashing red light (which I don't think is telling us about the pilot when it's flashing) still came on once, so it isn't always hot. Mrs Diary reckons we should just give up and splash out a couple of grand on a Worcester. I keep telling her the only way we could afford that is to run advertising on the Diary.
But that just wouldn't be right, would it? You can still help Cod Almighty, though, readers, by visiting FreetheFixtures.com. As the Diary has reminded you recently, Town's fixture list, and those of all other Football League clubs and the Premiership, are, quite absurdly, copyrighted, and the copyright is owned by a company called Football DataCo, which has been going round threatening non-profit-making fan sites and zines with legal action just for telling other fans when and where their team is going to be playing football. FreetheFixtures.com is running a petition to protest this ridiculous and indefensible state of affairs, so if you appreciate the free, top-quality, no-advertising coverage you get from Cod Almighty, hit the site and sign up. Thanks.
Tuesday 19 June
The slow-burning saga of Town's 2007-08 fixture changes inches infinitesimally forward again. Today, the official website informs us, the club is looking to rearrange some matches to avoid clashes not with low-key family entertainment events at nearby minor tourist attractions, but "with any England Euro qualifying games". A quick check on these matches reveals only two clashes: the visit to Accrington on Saturday 8 September, which coincides with the national team's narrow home win over Israel, and the home game against Rochdale on Saturday 13 October, the same day England struggle to overcome tenacious Estonia at Wembley. The two games against Lincoln, meanwhile, are to move forward by two hours, to one o'clock in the afternoon. This is because, while the average distance between GTFC and their opponents in the fourth division is 140 miles, Lincoln is only 40 miles away, which means people will want to have a fight with them, and they are less likely to do so at one o'clock in the afternoon than three o'clock in the afternoon. Do you ever get the sudden feeling that the workings of the entire world are a perfect mystery?
Well, there's no bloody news, so I might as well see if anyone can help with the Diary plumbing. My central heating/hot water boiler turns itself off quite a bit. Sometimes this is just the pilot light: the red warning light comes on and you relight the pilot and the red light goes off, and everything's fine. But sometimes the red warning light flashes and nothing will work even turning the whole system off and back on again. I noticed that the pressure was a bit low it was down to 1, whatever the unit is pounds per square foot? So I let some more water into it, or whatever it does that puts the pressure back up, and it worked OK for a week. But now the pressure is 2 and there's hardly anything coming out of the hot tap and it's not even hot because the red warning light's flashing. I'm really skint so I don't wanna call out a plumber in case it's anything dead simple. Can anyone help? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and share your plumbskillz!
Monday 18 June
When there's no story, all good journalists know that you have to make a story out of it. And so it is that the Grimsby Telegraph reports the absence of Sir John McDermott's name from the Queen's birthday honours list published over the weekend. Fans had, of course, been calling for some time to have the achievements of Town's record appearance maker and heroic right-back, who retired in May after two decades of awesome consistency, commemorated nationally with an MBE or summat like that, but with characteristic Grimbarian apathy only 700 could be bothered to sign a petition on the Downing Street website and the campaign fell as flat on its arse as one of the many opposition right wingers Macca had the beating of over the years. "If you get one you get one and if you don't you don't," the ex-player told the Telegraph. "To be honest it was nice just to be nominated... I know what people think of me and that is good enough." This ought at least to stand Sir John in good stead in the race to become Boston United's new manager, as the last holder of the post was pretty clear about what people thought of him too.
Town's official website has also managed to conjure a page from thin air today, though this may be less surprising given the frequency with which the club is able to send chargeable text messages that tell you absolutely bugger all. The non-story this time concerns changes to the 200708 fixture list, which was published last Thursday, and the gist is that these alterations haven't been made yet, but they will be soon. "All necessary fixture and kick-off changes will be announced on the official website," promises the club, which would at least mark an improvement from last season, when the rearrangement of the home game against Mansfield to a Friday night to avoid a clash with a 'Family Fun Day' at Cleethorpes Boating Lake was announced only in the Grimsby Telegraph, possibly out of sheer embarrassment.
In other emails to the Diary sent during my absence on broken computer leave a few weeks ago, Sean Carr was another reader to suggest an improvement for Cod Almighty. "How about a new feature to run through the barren footyless months?" he wrote. And what would that be, sir? "A quick checklist of who is signed up, which you could update when someone new joins or re-signs.
Perhaps, if they are new, how long a contract and where they joined from in brackets after their name? Can you put it into the four basic categories? Goalies, defenders, midfielders, strikers." Great idea, Sean so great, in fact, that this website has done precisely that in recent close seasons (albeit not always accurately: if only Steve Mildenhall had signed a two-year contract). The lack of such a checklist this summer may be due to circumstances in the life of CA's Andy Holt, who was responsible for their upkeep in previous years. Andy, if you're reading what's the sitch?
Also, thanks to Gary Main and Dave Clark for getting in touch; if you've ordered a T-shirt, Gary, we hope you like it; and, Dave, the Diary has been informed by Cod Almighty lexicographer Pete Green a sort of more northern, less sexy version of Victoria Coren that he will look over all the new submissions to the Grimmo Dictionary sometime soon. There are loads, apparently. Joe Mooney, meanwhile, was unhappy at serial play-off loser Russell Slade's line in baseball caps. "I'm willing to bet money that he's never watched a Yankees match in his life. I really don't like it when sports team badges are worn as designer labels." I can see where you're coming from, Joe; in fact the Diary cares little for designer labels, full stop. If I had that sort of money I'd do something better with it, like book a table at McMenemy's. And then get turned away at the door for not wearing designer labels.
Friday 15 June
Your Guest Diarist spent part of this morning wading through a stultifying interview with Town assistant manager Stuart Watkiss, who was forced to remind the interviewer at one point that Town have to play everyone twice. It's Football League rules, you know. Mercifully for you, gentle reader, the Grimsby Telegraph has printed a condensed version of the interview so you do not have to be quite so stultified unless you really want full-on stultification this rainy Friday. So we have to play the good teams at home and away, and we have to play the other teams home and away as well. Except we are not really sure whom the good teams are yet. So will Lincoln and Wycombe still be play-off merchants? And will Peterborough's money buy them owt that will get them up there? And will Hereford and Shrewsbury still be hard to beat? And what of the relegated clubs? And what of those promoted in to the league? Not a flippin' clue really. So I had a look at a bookmaking site, although my betting days are long in the past, and this one shows how Coral think it will pan out. The bottom six look more likely than the top six in my view, but it's nice to see Town in mid-table obscurity with 6/1 available for them to finish in the top three. A sporting bet, eh?
But now it's time to listen to Lord Buckley. So hang on a mo, gentle reader.
So now I know. Lord Buckley, in mellow mood, is looking to do better than last season. He feels he has two keepers now who can genuinely compete for the first team. And if he had to pick his first team today it would be Barnes in goal simply because he played well at the end of last season. Yes he did. As for strikers, well, there is no-one close to being signed and Lord Buckley rapidly turned the conversation back to whom we have already got. He feels that if Rankin showed the desire of Danny North he would be in the team, explaining that he is planning to have a little chat with our Isaiaiaiah on his return from holiday. So we may end up with Jones, North and Rankin as the first-choice strikers next season. This will depend, one suspects, on how fit Rankin is after the first two weeks of the pre-season. So there is no need to panic at the moment and that's an official platitude from the great man himself.
The official site has released photographs of notorious Grimsby heterosexual Peter Bore wearing the new Town away shirt. Relatively inoffensive, and like, well like a blue footy shirt really. The only other news worth mentioning is the David Burns Look North fiasco. Peter Levy and Mr Burns are unlikely bedfellows, but ended up together on the sofa discussing football. Yes, this is car crash TV alright. It followed a nice little film showing Scunny expanding their snack shack and shyly admitting they'd spent thirty grand on the pitch as they ready themselves for life in division two next season. As for the Mariners, well, all the talk was of the 'new anthem' to be sung to the tune of Jerusalem. The lyrics perhaps need a little work, but it's a nice tune. Burns sniggered, Peter couldn't wait to tell us (again) how grateful he was that we were watching him. And then it was Celebrity Masterchef, going LOUD. Christ, life sucks when you end up slumped on the settee watching shit like this. See yer.
Thursday 14 June
The Mariners will begin next season at home to Notts County on 11 August and will end it away at Hereford on 3 May. In between, despite several opponents in fairly close proximity, Town have once again been handed a fixture list devoid of anything approaching a bank holiday derby. The closest local knees-up to a holiday throughout the 200708 campaign will be the visit of Lincoln in what seems to be a new customary slot between Christmas and New Year but not on Boxing Day (this time on Saturday 29 December) and, as was the case last season, there will be no football at all on the August bank holiday Monday, local or otherwise. It appears that, for GTFC at least, the holiday derby, like standing in the top two divisions, has become a thing of the past for the simple reason that absolutely nobody in football wants it except the fans.
John Ide has emailed the Diary with a great idea. "Just had a thought seeing as it's Fathers' Day on Sunday," he writes. "Why not get all the offspring to buy Dad a season ticket to see the mighties storm the fourth division next season?" And on the subject of season ticket sales it is three days since the Diary last updated you, which seems extraordinarily remiss of me given the general dearth of news emanating from DN35 this week. On Monday, you will doubtless recall, we discovered that the Mariners had shifted 2,000 of the things, raising £360,000 in the process. Since then the figures have risen to 2,200 and £375,000 respectively, reports the club's official website, which equates to 200 more season tickets bringing in £15,000. As any fool knows, £15,000 divided by 200 makes only £75, so perhaps the staff at Blundell Park have been selling season tickets to both offspring and Dad at the children's rate.
And finally today and finally from me this week, before Guest Diary rolls back into town for his traditional Friday slot Town's premium subscription service Mariners World today promises a tub-thumping interview with assistant manager Stuart Watkiss. We Fear Nobody! reads the headline; under it, on the home page of the club's official website, appear the words "Stu says that the Mariners fear nobody and he thinks that his side can beat anyone on the day". Suitably inspired by Watkiss's fighting talk, pumped-up, and filled with confidence for the future direction of the club, MW subscribers click on the link and are greeted with the message "Error. The page you are trying to reach may have expired, or been moved. If you have followed a link from your bookmarks, please relocate the page and remember to update your bookmarks."
Wednesday 13 June
Hello! Today you find the Diary bright, relaxed and perfectly happy. Why? I have just installed a plug-in for Firefox which blocks Flash animations from playing automatically, instead displaying placeholders which you have to click if you want the animations to begin. What's so great about that? It means that I can now visit Town's official website without getting headaches and nausea from all those McDeath adverts. Get in!
Town's opponents in the first round of next season's League Cup will be second division Burnley, last stopping-off point for Danny Coyne and birthplace of the actor who plays Claire out of Coro. The two sides last played each other in the 200203 season Town and Burnley, I mean, not Danny and Claire scoring 21 goals in their four meetings, including, of course, a home win for the Mariners in the league which was less bizarre for its 6-5 scoreline than for Stuart Campbell and Simon Ford scoring two of the goals. It is perhaps with the sides' recent history in mind that the Burnley Express, rather than disrespectfully drone on about what an unglamorous, dreary and, heh, grim journey awaits local fans in the week beginning 13 August, chooses to describe the tie as "a tricky trip" for the Clarets. Either that or Burnley is scarcely less unglamorous, dreary and grim than Grimsby, of course.
Since nothing else is happening until the fixture list comes out tomorrow and we moan about not having local derbies on bank holidays any more, let us turn again to the Diary's pulsating inbox. In response to one of yesterday's emails Phil Watson writes: "I reckon Steven Young's travel agent has sold him a pup if Steve reckons there will be beaches for him to frolic on (in a CA T-shirt or otherwise) in Slovakia, which is a landlocked central European country of which Wikipedia helpfully says: 'The Slovak landscape is noted primarily for its mountainous nature'. Dump the beach towel and break out the hiking boots Steve. Mind you, I write this from a compound in the Saudi desert a few miles east of Riyadh, where we have all the sand we could ever wish for but still nothing resembling a beach." Much like the playing surface at Rochdale the other year, eh.
Kind-hearted Sibbo, meanwhile, has been moved to email by the plight of Town's county neighbours. "Good to hear a shout out from impsTALK in yesterday's Diary," he writes. "Although Boston as a club deserved all they got, I have some good friends who have supported the Pilgrims for many years. I find it a sad fact that some no longer want to watch their team play. It makes me realise how important Grimsby Town FC are to my life. So roll on August when Dave and I will be motoring up the A16 to BP once again. Oh, by the way, it's good to have you back, Diary. Those motherfucker boards, eh!" Thanks mate. I guess Steven Young will be saying the same thing when he tries surfing in Slovakia.
Ben Gresswell emailed shortly before yesterday's Diary was published, and hence had not read the lachrymose farewell from impsTALK when he wrote: "'Was it better than sex?' is often a question reserved for sportsmen and women who have just won a major trophy or for multi-million-pound lottery winners. However, I afforded myself the luxury of asking the same question when I stumbled across the news that the backward, potato-picking, six-toed, carrot-crunching Boston Backhanders FC had been relegated again. And guess what? The answer was YES, YES, YES." Ben fails to elaborate, however, on whether he means sex with Leanne Battersby.
Tuesday 12 June
What have today's Diary and the Standells' 196566 classic single 'Dirty Water' got in common? They are both concerned with Boston, although the latter deals with the "frustrated women/Have to be in by 12 o'clock" of the Massachusetts city of that name, while our focus here today is upon Sir John McDermott's attempts to get a job in the southern Lincolnshire version. The good news for Town's retired hero, who has applied for the job of Boston United team manager, is a wildly enthusiastic reference from the man who made him what he is Sir Alan Buckley Himself. "I think he would make a good coach," gushes the Mariners boss in today's Grimsby Telegraph. "He spoke to me about it and I told him he should apply." Al goes on to muse upon the nature of management ("You have to be your own person and develop your own style") and the assistance of Stuart Watkiss ("he has been first class") but the Diary's thoughts remain with Macca especially as his competition for the Pilgrims hotseat may be a little less stiff now that United have been relegated to the Conference North. Though the slate may not have been wiped completely clean for the cheats down the road Jim Rodwell, of course, remains chairman at York Street Town fans may soon find themselves having to quickly reallocate some goodwill if Sir Mac lands the post.
Today's only other GTFC news being that Gary Montgomery will sign his one-year contract with the club today, this seems as good a time as any to catch up on some of the email that built up in the Diary's inbox during my lengthy recent absence from duty. Ben Gresswell asked: "Was Miss Guest Diary referring to Wayne Burnett when she said 'there's only one person on my wish list and it begins with a W...'? This is troubling me, so please set my mind at ease and tell me it is not so?" Afraid your mind will have to continue at unease, Ben, as Miss GD is renowned among the Cod Almighty team for her long-standing infatuation with Town's golden goalscoring playmaker of the late 1990s. I think it's a hair thing.
Wayne and his Wembley heroics perhaps reminded Ben about this website's recent poll to find Town's greatest goal of the past generation, which seems to have become stalled at number 8. Ben was not alone in asking what's happening with the series, as Eve Barnard enquired: "When are we going to find out the last 7 in the 'greatest Town goal' top 10? The suspense is killing me." Well, the delay is partly down to series editor Simon Wilson having just become a dad for the second time, although the labour wasn't quite as long as you might surmise from the last instalment having been published on 13 April. It does look like the next part is almost ready to roll though, so we may see it within the week if Si can tear himself away from shitty nappies for long enough to scan some photos in.
Steven Young also emailed with a question about the website, asking "what happened to that squad number competition you launched last summer. During your update a few months ago I was the projected winner. It would be nice to know the result because I'm going on holiday next week and one of your T-shirts would look well classy on the beaches of Slovakia." This was on 7 June, almost a month after competition maestro Andy Holt revealed that the winner was Grant Johnson. Do keep up, Steven! Looks like you weren't far off first place but I'm sure the Valkov beach volleyball is more than making up for the disappointment.
There's just about time for one more today, and we go out the way we came in with Boston United. Our final email this Tuesday is a poignant goodbye, posted not long after the season ended, by impsTALK not just the finest Pilgrims site on the web but one of the best football sites there is...
So farewell, Cod Almighty, farewell.
Farewell Diary. Farewell Tony Butcher and Factfile and Postbag it's been a crazy five years, but for us Pilgrims there is still no end in sight yet.
So when, next season, you're slugging it out with Bradford and Chesterfield and Dagenham, and we're either getting the shit kicked out of us by knuckle-dragging nutcases at York, or sat at home twiddling our thumbs while weeds slowly consume the York Street pitch, please spare a thought for those Boston fans who never wanted this, but who have been screwed quite spectacularly for the last decade.
Here's hoping we may one day meet as equals again but with our heads held high.
Although, I suppose we won't get stuffed by Peter Bore next season. If there is one...
Farewell, impsTALK, and thanks for the good times. We won't miss Evans and Rodwell but we'll miss you. Go easy on Macca for us if he gets the job.
Monday 11 June
Good day! This is your regular Diary returning to duty following a lay-off which can only be described as Luton's Michael Reddy-esque in its duration. My absence has owed less to dodgy knees than to dodgy motherboards, and to the season ticket renewal form dropping through the door the same week as my old computer giving up the cyberghost but here we are again at last, just in time for Boston to be relegated for the second month on the trot. I feel an unaccountable urge to run a lap of honour.
The Diary's is apparently one of 2,000 season tickets to have flown off the shelves thus far a figure described by Town's official website as "equating to a massive £360,000" in sales. All these numbers are pretty meaningless, though, outside the context of previous years' sales, and for this we must look to the Grimsby Telegraph, where club bean-counter Steve Wraith explains: "Last season we only just topped the £400,000 and that was by August 25 as well." Against this, however, must be weighed the fact that season tickets didn't go on sale last summer until 19 June. Not like GTFC to mislead their own supporters by omitting to mention important information, is it? At the same time, we must remember that the club's outgoings have been greater this summer, since Big Al Buckley has already snapped up James Hunt, Gary Montgomery and Jamie Clarke and got Stuart Watkiss on a longer contract, as well as awarding pro terms to that full-back from the Myspace Mariners and new deals to Gary Jones, Justin Whittle, Ciaran Toner, Danny Boshell and Nick Hegarty, whereas at this point last year the only name to have been inked on a new contract was Gary Harkins.
Speaking of Magic Stu, Town's assistant manager will be still taking his rejuvenated reserve side to various destinations across the north and east of England next season, reports the official site, after the AGM of the Football League decided the club would remain in the eastern division of the Hi-De-Hi Holidays League. Interestingly, the OS notes that the meeting took place in Portugal, though we are given no indication as to why. Still, it must be nice for Brian Mawhinney to top up his suntan while he carries on talking shite about penalty shootouts.
Finally today, don't forget that there are only three days to go before the fixture lists are published for the 200708 season. This means it is about 12 days to go before GTFC piss in their fans' eyes by switching half a dozen games to Friday nights and roughly three weeks before Football Dataco Ltd piss in the eyes of fans everywhere by starting to threaten them with legal action for the sickening crime of distributing information about when their football teams will be playing matches and who against. See you tomorrow!
Friday 8 June
Jonny Rowan, who was once known as the first Peter Bore, is back in town teaching kids how to play football. The Boston Town striker has been asked by Graham Rodger to give him a hand and has been invited to reminisce about his Town career to the Grimsby Telegraph. Apparently among his noteworthy goals were ones scored at Liverpool and Hartlepool. The latter, as your Guest Diarist recalls, galvanised the entire Town team in to thinking they could get back from this 4-1 away deficit. And for ten minutes they pulverised 'em, before unfortunately conceding another four goals a bit later on. The best goal in that match, of course, was scored by Paul Groves. I always wanted Jonny to be good enough to have his own song ('Little Jonny Rowan' to the tune of that magnificent Television track), but it was not to be.
The other tittle-tattle that has been floating about this week concerns Jack Lester, with whom Lord Buckley has confessed to having two minutes of phone sex. Any road, Jack resolutely refused to come for that sort of money and put the phone down. One of Cod Almighty's Nottingham-based spies had already asked Jack's missus, I'm told, and apparently she said that Jack's legs are not what they were. There should be a witticism about diving next, but I just can't be arsed, so insert your own, gentle reader.
Town's match at Grantham has been brought forward a day to Tuesday 17 July, which is good news for Corrie-watchers like me. The Grantham stadium is a miniature Fentydome and lacks the charm of Lincoln United or Brigg's grounds, but it should be a grand night out nonetheless. But so, so far in the future. At least we will have next season's fixture list to pore over next week. Meanwhile the club has told the Telegraph that season ticket sales are now over £260,000. Why don't they just tell us how many they have sold? My guess is between eight hundred and a thousand, so there's a way to go yet and the prices go up at noon on Saturday so stop dithering, chaps. [Are women fans allowed to dither a while longer? ed.]
And to finish I'd like to offer a piece of advice to those government-deplored bottle-of-red-wine in-front-of-the-telly every-night drinkers. Two pieces actually: keep drinking it, and eat a small cube of cheese immediately beforehand. Not, not for the calcium but to cause a chemical reaction in your mouth which makes Lidl's Spanish plonk taste really quite nice. See yer.
Wednesday 6 June
Hi guys! Durham Diary here, dragging himself out of bed and a semi-permanent post-exam drunken stupor to confuse and abuse you with a mix of nonsensical sentences and contradictions of terms. 'Semi-permanent' being the first of the latter; let's keep a count.
So the Mariners have all but signed Gary Montgomery, a keeper who wasn't kept by non-local rivals Rotherham after their recent relegation. I don't know anything about him, so let's make a two-footed hop to an email from a contact of a friend of a contact of an occasional diarist:
"Hmm, Monty is something of an enigma. Suffered by having to follow on from Mike Pollitt our best keeper in years by some distance. Don't think any of our keepers are really helped by the crowd getting on their back as soon as something goes wrong. It rather shattered his confidence and I don't think he ever really recovered from it. It may well be better for him having a fresh start at your place. I don't think he had any confidence in the defence nor they in him. Plus we were forever chopping and changing keepers after each of them made a clanger. He's fairly woeful at coming off his line (but I suspect that may be lower division keepers all over) or commanding his area. Good shot stopper though."
Sound familiar anyone? If Monty comes here expecting patience, reasonable fans and support through periods of bad form he'll get a shock playing in front of the Pontoon I suspect. Monty hails from the coastal part of Leamington Spa, and made 33 starts for the Millers as well as 8 for Coventry, where he was a trainee. Gazza will start the season as our second number one, but will look to push current incumbent Phil Barnes as he establishes himself. Which brings me round to wondering when the last time was Town had two genuine contenders to play between the metal sticks. Answers on a postcard along with your full name, National Insurance number and credit card details to the following address...
Talking of players released by Rotherham, which I was before cleverly confusing myself, Michael Keane is also looking for a new club. Keane, who hails from the sober part of Dublin, scored twice in seven loan appearances for the Mariners at the end of the 2003 relegation season before making me laugh and getting into trouble by making gestures to travelling Brighton fans on the final day of the season to the effect that they might in fact be joining us in playing lower-division football the next season. Lower-division football: that's probably the subtlest of the contradictions of terms so far.
It appears I'm not the only one drawing out old news to make up for the lack of new news. The OS is offering subscribers "ANOTHER chance to see the farewell interview with John McDermott", and when they put the capitals in for you, you know there's not much left to say. McDermott, who is almost unanimously regarded as the club's greatest ever playing servant, recently sold his soul to the devil by applying for the vacant Boston manager's job, which I'd genuinely hate him to get, if only because it meant I'd want Boston to be successful.
And that's all we have time for today, folks. Tune in on Friday when someone else will provide your third daily update since last Friday. I'm going for a nice quiet glass of orange juice and get my head round the concept of 'almost unanimously'. See you all soon, and good luck to England for tonight.
Monday 4 June
"Of course Detective Inspector, you can look under my new patio."
Don't mind them, they're just looking for the missing Mr Normal Diary. I haven't seen him for ages, honest guv. With the Dryden of dryness as absent as hard news, the Cod Almighty board held an Extraordinary General Meeting and has decided to retire to 1973, declaring a Three-Day Week Order for the merry month of June. My name is Deviant Diary. Am I mad, in a coma or simply wallowing in nostalgia for a comic effect?
See my baby jibe.
They promised, they delivered. All weekend the heaving metropolis that is North East Lincolnshire was throbbing with excitement, and that's not just because Ces and Len had reformed to do a summer season at the Spider's Web. Two signings, one on Monday they squealed, and we squealed too when from behind the big purple curtain Stuart "now that's a haircut" Watkiss emerged. Oh come on, he's done a fine job number twoing, whatever number twoing is. And there's more promised later this week. I reckon that financial stability will see the job of assistant handyman being reinstated. No more will the striplight of Damocles oscillate above the denizens of the darkest corners of the Pontoon. A young man in overalls with a multipurpose screwdriver is what every successful football club has had throughout the ages. That explains Nicky Butt, doesn't it?
Who mentioned financial stability? Not our friends in the South, Bust'un United, who have the chance to go from the ridiculous to the sublime. Our Lord, the late departed Sir John of McDermott, has flown an outrageous kite, eying an opportunity down amongst the deadmen. I ask you, the jury, look before you. Such a fragrant full-back, how could he even think of marrying a scoundrel? Bust'un have to survive before they can revive. They have one week, and this diary will self destruct in six sentences.
And sticking with the non-leaguers near Stickney, who in football deserves a slap more than the Creepy Crawley and his crew? There are some glaring omissions from this list of cyberslappers. Go on, add to the nation's gaiety.
Ah, 1973. Everything was black and white then, and still is in our world. Are we mad, or in a summer coma?
Friday 1 June
Going cold turkey for five days and then getting a massive hit of news, as provided by my deviant friend to you yesterday, must have been a shock to the system, gentle reader. Pass the valium on the left hand side, for today we return to what we consider now to be normal in this dull doldrum between the seasons of our lives. Tonight England play Brazil and the BBC has cleared its entire schedule in anticipation. Leonardo had already reached a noisy Rome airport by 8:30am and the BBC radio man couldn't wait any longer to get his views on Beckham. The rumour that Martin Paterson is to be auctioned live on Flog It! has no foundation (yet), and Lord Buckley has a digital watch.
The Independent, whose editor continues to curse the political vacuum which has consumed England since Blair decided upon a seven week farewell tour, is reduced to running a piece about dialects. Cod Almighty of course, published its Grimmo Dictionary back in 2004, and still gets feedback from readers suggesting new words. Stitherum was the last one I saw commented upon, but, like the faintly risible Indy article, this word is by no means confined to Grimbarians, but is old Lincolnshire dialect. As your Guest Diarist doesn't actually come from Grimsby I can know this. Grimbarians, and Meggies of course, can only know the slang words they know until they move away. But before I am enveloped completely in this linguistic swamp and start to sound like Donald Rumsfeld crossed with a Gainsborough folk group I need to stop this stitherum and move on to that crucial third paragraph.
Here it is. And the best we can hope for it to recycle some tosh from the Grinsby Telewag. Its lead news story tells of the impending arrival of a food recycling factory in Stallingborough. This means out-of-date food gets burnt to make electricity. I suppose the idea of giving it to poor people to eat is right out of the question. And food is mostly packaging these days anyway, so burning it makes some kind of sense. It's a thermal cracker as Frank Carson would say. On the sports page there is an article about the striker hunt which is so comprehensively recycled that I cannae be bothered with it. And Lord Buckley tells us that he wants a second keeper very badly. And that he has spoken to three chaps already.
So we can look forward to Carragher at full-back, the return of that midfield quartet and two strikers in Owen and Smith who have each scored about once in the last eighteen months. Bound to win then. See yer.