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Diary - February 2008
Friday 29 February
Scunthorpe United's chairman has said that the Iron have a 40 per cent better chance of moving to a new stadium than neighbours Grimsby Town. Well, he said that Scunny have a 50-50 chance, which is more or less saying that, isn't it? But then fungi are more closely related to people than carrots, apparently, so who am I to judge?
Any road, your Guest Diarist has been too busy putting the furniture back straight in the family dolls' house to even think about owt else since that earthquake shook Lincolnshire to the core the other night. And no, we don't need counselling; we realise that earthquakes in other countries have consequences that mean those foreigners don't even notice that their pictures have gone a bit wonky and their patio furniture is slightly askew. It's a funny old world isn't it? Expect earthquake emergency packs to be featured in the next crop of gadget catalogues at £29.99 for a torch, a small bottle of water, a radio and a really useful piece of string.
There is a ground-rumbling match report on the superbly new and forever dynamically changing official website (odds of 4/11 on an average of more than three typos in each article available on bet365). No, I mean it. Having read about Town reserves' 3-1 win over the Hully gullies in which Andy Taylor and Nathan Jarman get honourable mentions, but Peter Bore didn't, I felt disappointed not to have been in the Main Stand cheering them on. Jarman apparently had a go at centre-half later on in the match but we are not told how he fared. This is the only substantive omission from a riveting report of an important Town victory in which several first-team squad members got a run out against a Hull team stuffed with famous names and declining reputations.
Martin Butler turned up and played the whole match, possibly following the sound advice he has received from his solicitor. He even scored a tap-in right at the end to prove he was there, fulfilling the necessary contractual duties of a highly paid professional footballer. But, one assumes, his back won't stand a drive up to Lancaster so soon after this exertion. Then again, you never know. On the other hand he may be able to skive some more by citing the precedent of Prince Harry a professional soldier who is not allowed to ply his trade for long anywhere near a war. Time was when royalty led us into battle. Now young royals are just stuck-up little scaredy cats and Butler needs to show us what he is flipping made of by breaking a sweat for his tired teammates.
As for team news ahead of tomorrow's Groundhog Day game at Morecambe, the air is full of talk of squad rotation, what with Butler pronouncing himself fit again, Jarman playing brightly for the reserves and whatnot. Lord Buckley, though, has declared that his squad is not big enough for wholesale changes and also told interviewer Dale to 'get a life' rather than mutter on like a journo about playing the same team thrice in a week. Buckley observed that Bolland could do with a game but had little else to say on the composition of tomorrow's starting eleven.
AB says he is pretending that the game is at Dagenham tomorrow or some such, and that anyone can win any game in this league. With both teams still vaguely dreaming of inching nearer to the play-offs there is a bit to play for alright. Enjoy the game see yer.
Thursday 28 February
Hi guys! Durham Diary back again, shaking things up like a rumble in the jungle of Market Rasen. You're thinking about it, I'm thinking about. Most of Grimsby's thinking about it, but out of courtesy to those trying desperately not to take anything for granted I'll go throughout today's musings without mentioning the 'W' word. Apart from maybe just once. Weather. Now that's quite enough of that.
Town's kitman, Mike Bielby, was 75 on Tuesday, but I only found out today. Many happy returns if you're reading, Mike, and sorry we missed it!
Keith Collins gets an early mention today for having appealed to sense of maths almost immediately after I rolled out of bed. Well done you! KC starts with a snippet he found on the Morecambe Official Site (be it superb, new, or neither). "The Shrimps started brightly in front of a big home crowd..." What of it, you ask. Well it's a good job you did (and an even better job that I get to tell you what you ask), because Keith is only just getting warmed to his point: "With a crowd of 3,207 and Town selling 900 tickets, what is an average crowd for them?" Well, Keith, and average crowd for them at home this season is 3,035, although you make a valid point in that I would suspect (though I don't have the statistics to confirm this) that an average home support does consist of more than 2,300. I feel like I should end this paragraph with an admonishment to Keith for belittling a league club smaller than ourselves, but the chance to do so will arise so rarely these days I'll let him off.
3,207 may seem not very many, but I've checked on the abacus and by my reckoning it's more than 2,800, being the number of tickets currently sold for the return leg at Blundell Park according to Town's SNOS. Yet those in the know at the SNOS reckon we "could be heading for a 9,000 sell out". Now I hate to "nit-pick" (my wooden nose grew three inches as I wrote that) but I reckon this is a contradiction in terms, since the 'Guide to Blundell Park' found elsewhere on the SNOS lists the current capacity as 9,953. I've been through the Colouring Competition rules (downloadable in PDF format from the Football League website) and there isn't anything I've found about having to leave the best part of 1,000 seats unsold, but hey. What I have found is that should Morecambe win by exactly one goal on Tuesday, the match will go to penalties with no 'away goals' rule and no extra time (though the final final does use extra time if the scores are level). Something to bear in mind. The end of the article on the SNOS lists match prices for Tuesday's game. While they refrain from apostrophe abuse in the words "adults", "juniors" and even "students", they can't resist slipping one into "OAP's". Oh, those little scamp's!
What really concerns me is that I always thought Morecambe were the Shrimpers, but I've checked on their OS and they do in fact refer to themselves as the Shrimps. I only hope I've not made a similar mistake whilst cheering on the Marins over the years.
The final line of Keith Collins' email contains just three letters: "utm". And therein lies a sentiment I hope we can all share. Up the Mariners, and good day to you all. Up the Mariners!
Wednesday 27 February
The record books will simply note that the result of last night's game was "Morecambe 0 Grimsby Town 1", an injustice for Phil Barnes's sensational one-man stand against a home side strutting with great funk. Don't just take Alan Buckley's belief that some of the saves were "world class". The bloke stood next me, your 'average Town fan', rated one as "fucking awesome!". In an age when the basic highlights of a game are boiled down to goals and the goals only, here's hoping Mariners World have the sense to show Barnes's supershow alongside Bolly's goal which itself was a throwback to the midfielder's imperious first season at the club.
But before we all get too carried away whistling "Wembley, Wembley" at every opportune moment, the Shrimpers' assistant manager Mark Lillis reminds us that "it's only half-time". Just another 90 minutes against them on Saturday to get through before the second half...
Tuesday 26 February
Leeds Diary is slogging hard for the Man today, the beads of sweat collecting at his eyebrows as he hammers away frenetically on my keyboard. Why? Let me switch to the first-person: I need to knock off a bit early to get to Morecambe for tonight's game. Funny, eh, how on occasion one comes in early to work, stays late, takes bits home, and yet still finds leaving an hour early means working through lunch. Which leaves time only for a quick scoff of my sarnies and rattling out this Diary. Apologies in advance for any potential terseness and brevity.
First, to the participants of tonight's first leg of the chance to go on and uphold the good name of properly formed and geographically placed clubs by defeating the Bastard Franchise Scum at Wem-ber-ley. Team news for Town: Ciaran Toner is a probable absentee; James Hunt and the mighty Bosh are likely to recover from knocks picked up on Saturday; and Tom Newey will return after missing the Wrexham game. Morecambe skipper Jim Bentley, a key player in the Shrimpers' solid first season back in the League, is a major doubt for tonight's game and cup-tied 'keeper Shawn Jalal will be replaced by rookie Scott Davies, making his eighth club appearance.
Mariners World bills the match as "The Biggest Game Of The Season". If they know every other match after this one can't be any bigger, do they know something we don't? Is it all downtable from hereon? Anyway, if you can't pick up Radio Humberside (apparently they are covering the game live, so hooray, no crappy Last Resort FM), consider MW's current four-day "just" 99p deal. It's crap value, mind, working out at 24.75p per day, whereas 12 months' subscription works out at 13p a day, but that's commercialism for you, consumer.
Given Guest Diary's recent bigging up the ever-improving Mariners World mainly down to the chemistry between Dale and Alan (a sitcom title if ever I saw one) which the likes of Fern and Philip can only dream of a subscription isn't the worst idea. Until now. Like the BBC pisses away your licence fee on the irksome BBC Three, the SNOS is going to waste your subscription fees on filming A Day in the Life Of. Without flinching at the missed opportunity of a potential Beatles theme tune, the club promises Ryan Bennett "getting up in the morning to going home after a busy day at the club". Busy? Is GTFC's very own Nick Broomfield going to burst the public perception that a young footballer's working week involves squeezing a couple of hours' daily training around marathon sessions on their games consoles, TXTing their M8Z, and watching boxsets of Only Fools and Horses? Unlike the outcome of tonight's game, I know the answer.
And with the last bite of my sarnie I must get my head back down. All the best for tonight, boys, and if you're off tonight get behind the boys. Up the Mariners!
Monday 25 February
Hi. There was Durham Diary bragging on Friday about living the dream, bragging as he was about his lack of work. The bug ain't catching: your regular Diarist is too busy with "work" this week. (Although he's just emailed to say he's off out boozing this afternoon, the jammy get.) So a week of guest diaries awaits, starting with I, Leeds/Headingley/Idle Diary.
I was trying to sweep under the tatty front door mat a morning of updating the site with details of the weekend's "pretty unremarkable game". That was the day before yesterday's news, a point gained. (Besides you can digest all the post-match stuff here.) Tomorrow is, after all, another day and tomorrow YES! is OUR EXCITING TRIP TO MORECAMBE! I'm excited! EXCITED! Are you excited? I am! I'm so excited I'm on the verge of asking for a lift from any diary readers who live Leeds-way. And then ringing the club for one of those leftover 200 tickets. Even Nick Fenton is dead EXCITED as well, although in one of those "it'll be nice" ways that footballers so often go on about. One person who isn't so excited is Alan Buckley, eyeing up the survivors from Oceanic flight 815 to Wrexham: "Ciaran's took a very bad kick on the shin he couldn't carry on. It was touch and go with Hunty, who has gritted his teeth and carried on with a bruised thigh." More worryingly it seems the prospect of Wembley is getting to the mighty Bosh, his injuries psychological, "icing his thigh/groin area in the dressing room." Quick! Hide those hundreds and thousands and candles!
The GTFC matchday programme has been proclaimed the divison's "most improved" by Programme Monthly, testament to the club's decision to shift the editor's chair from the commercial department to the desk of the ever-reliable Jonathan Byrne. Top work, fella. I gave up the regular habit of buying programmes a few months short of my 27th birthday shifting the money to a then freshly-born Mariners World. Here's hoping when they announce the winner of "superb new official site", the club's updates on the phone system and Dale Ladson's ever-improving interviews are given the credit they mumble mumble mumble.
And finally, would you treat your mum to a meal at Blundell Park? Mine'd cuff me ear if I did. "Bring me all the way to this dump?" will be a phrase of the past once we have those custom built facilities at the Fentydome. But until that day, and if it's the sort of treat your mam'd like, then "try the professionals" at McMenemy's. Don't these kind of lady attracting events usually come with male strippers though?
Friday 22 February
Hiya guys, hope you're all well. Apart from you Nath hope you're having a bad day and your work is rubbish! Durham Diary here, proclaiming to those who surely knew it already that working is bad. You heard it here last, chums.
So, Town aren't playing Wrexham tonight after all. Now I don't actually mind this trend towards games on a Friday: I prefer the atmosphere of night matches and like the combination of being able to both watch my team and have Saturday afternoon available to me. And evidence would suggest I'm in the vast majority. Pimp Daddy Diary yesterday publicly applauded the Welsh team's decision to move their Friday game to Saturday, prompting the quite splendidly named Rufus Murphy to email his strong disagreement. "I also applaud Wrexham." My mistake. "As someone who works away and can't get to Friday or midweek games, I only hope GTFC abandon this idea of moving games from Saturdays. So yar boo and er, sack me!" Although of course if they did sack you, Rufus old chap, you wouldn't work away any more and might quite fancy some Friday night football. You know, if your auntie had testicles she'd be your uncle kind of thing.
One interesting little quirk of having the 'Now We're In The Semis We're Interested' Colouring Competition match postponed on Tuesday is that Town will now play Morecambe three times in a week. With Morecambe level on points with the team in the lowest play-off place, surely some agreement can be reached by which Town get a day out at Wembley in the 'NWITSWI'CC final, and Morecambe win 10-1 on the intervening Saturday to end our play-off hopes but seriously boost theirs? What we need to do is hire an agent to broker the deal for us. Agents are under-utilised in football, in my opinion.
"Thank you" is the title of an article on the SNOS, in which the club takes the thoroughly commendable step of actually stopping and thanking those who both necessitate and facilitate the club's existence. Unfortunately, rather than thanking fans for their ongoing support, for the hours and pounds spent cheering on the team in various locations of the British Isles, the club has publicly announced its gratitude to those who "represented the club at the Football Freerole Poker tournament which was held on Thursday night". Incredibly, this is not the crassest part of the article, which title is reserved for the final line: "If you was there tonight click here to tell us". My stomach churns.
Will the players play tomorrow like they did against Dagenham because they're concentrating more on the possibility of getting to Wembley, or will they play like they had done previously in an attempt to force their way into the side that graces the hallowed turf should Town get there? Only time, I suspect, will tell. The SNOS reckons Fenton and Whittle are "slight doubts", while Newey is "likely to miss out". Add to this the fact that Sam Hird's time at Grimsby has become like milk in a student fridge, having both expired and gone a little bit sour, and one worries that Town may be left a little light at the back. I myself, I must confess, am somewhat distracted by the possibility of a trip to the new Wembley. I don't honestly think we're in a position to reach the play-offs, nor will we be relegated, and I find myself hoping we win tomorrow only to set us up well for the first of the forthcoming Morecambe trilogy.
It's now half past one, and I'm determined to make the 2pm target time for publication (which I found out existed by reading D-unit's words on Tuesday: no-one ever tells me anything!) for the first time. Besides which, I quite fancy a nap before my 4:15 lecture. Gee, I'm sure glad I don't have to work! Enjoy your weekend, one and all.
Thursday 21 February
In the heat of battle many things are said and done which are regretted later. Or, at the very least, not really meant. Unless you're Neil Warnock, in which case the only thing you'd regret would be not swearing quite enough. Sam Hird, on the other hand, is a case in point. Tactically substituted after just 19 minutes of Town's rubbish 4-1 defeat by Dagenham last weekend, the young loanee's last action in a Grimsby Town shirt before returning to Doncaster was to storm angrily to the dressing room without so much as a by-your-leave, and in fact he may even have angrily ripped his Grimsby Town shirt off at some point. Undeterred by this outburst, Lord Alan Buckley remains interested in signing Hird permanently when his contract at Donny runs out in the summer and undeterred by being substituted after just 19 minutes, Hird remains interested in such a move. "We'll just have to see how things go in the summer and I'll weigh it up," he is quoted unangrily in the Grimsby Telegraph. "I know Grimsby are interested so that's nice." Perhaps Alan and Sam will be like one of those couples whose constant arguments and fighting ultimately only prove their mutual love though the Diary will refrain from speculating as to which one might be Ozzy and which one's Sharon.
Friday football is shit, and so the Diary applauds Town's next opponents Wrexham for having moved this weekend's fixture back to Saturday 23 February from the obscene and unnatural position it had previously been switched to. But have they remembered to tell everyone? BBC Sport puts up the empty pages that will later be filled with team news on the day before a fixture takes place, and so it is worrying that they've done one for the Wrexham game already and not for any other games in the fourth division. True, the BBC is not Sir John McDermott, and thus makes mistakes from time to time. But the Football League still seems to be sending four match officials over to the Racecourse Ground for a Friday night fixture. Let's hope their budget runs to an extra night in a hotel.
"2pm target time for publication?" begins an email from Durham Diary. "Why didn't anyone tell me? Please extend apologies to anyone who has ever tuned in at 2pm only to find I was, in fact, still in bed. Go on, admit it: you're all jealous." Admit it? I don't think we ever concealed the fact. Are you still OK to do tomorrow's Diary, then, Durham? "Anyway, I went on the SNOS today and was greeted by a picture of Isisisiaisiasiasih Rankin and an enormous caption reading '4 day trial only 99p'. Do you think this is a spot of wishful thinking on Town's behalf? In that had we been given a 4-day trial of Rankin for only 99p prior to re-signing him we would, probably, have instead resigned him?" Well, that's how it worked with Laurens ten Heuvel.
Wednesday 20 February
Last night's meeting with Morecambe in the first leg of the Dulux Cup northern area final, which did not happen, has been rescheduled for next Tuesday. The second leg at Blundell Park, which was originally scheduled for next Tuesday, has been rescheduled for the Tuesday after, to avoid a clash with the first leg. Lord Alan Buckley and Viscount Paul Bolland have both supported the referee's decision to postpone the match. Anyone who had already bought a ticket but can't make the rescheduled dates can get a refund. All of which is a bit disappointing, because it's 2008 in Great Britain and we are all now obliged to work ourselves up into a mighty rage about things that aren't really that significant and furiously blame someone or something for them, even when it's not really anything's or anyone's fault. Saying that, it's nice for Nigel Miller, because it can't be very often his decisions receive such strong support.
Agents. You can't live with them; you can't live with them. In Town's earlier, more ambitious fourth division days, you may recall, a sickeningly large wodge of supporters' cash was channelled out of Blundell Park and into the bottomless pockets of football's parasitic middlemen. In the second half of 2004 this peaked at £4,000 a month, which might not sound much to giants of English football such as Chelsea, Manchester United and Sheffield Wednesday, but it might have been enough to stop Rob Jones sodding off to Edinburgh. It has just been revealed that in the second half of 2007, by contrast, the agents took nothing at all from the Mariners' coffers, but John Fenty (Con) can be found in the Grimsby Telegraph not ruling out a return to the heady days of signing Curtis Woodhouse as punishment for Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala going to the African Cup of Nations and then disgracefully surrendering the play-off final. "Sometimes players will only deal through their agents and it's the only way if you are interested in that player's services," reflects the chairman. On the other hand, instead of signing good players, we could just wait for the new stadium to be built and get us promoted by default, like happened with Darlington. Oh.
Literally three of you have emailed the Diary with tales of birthdays made miserable by the Mariners. "Has any one suffered worse than myself?" asks Dave the Engineer, now a postie but clearly pitching to be rechristened Dave the Emo. "25 March a day etched in the memory of all Town fans, not just because it's my birthday but it was the day when Russ gave his half-time talk on the pitch during the Lincoln debacle. Having been surrounded by the riot police in the pub before the game, the final result really topped off an excellent birthday to remember." Actually, though, Emma Blackbourn has suffered much worse. "I am pretty sure that 8 May 2004 (Tranmere away) must rank up there with the crappiest results ever," she writes. "Oh, and it was my 31st birthday. It did give me an added excuse to get very very drunk though." Ooof. The Diary's heartfelt, if belated, commiserations to you both.
"On my 15th birthday I rang up the BBC Radio Humberside office to take part in their very-90s 'Golden Goals' competition," writes Richard Lord. "You know, the one where you had to guess how many goals were going to feature in the games involving Town, Scunny and Hull. I happened to mention that it was my birthday and the lady said she would get in touch with Burnsy and see if he would give me a mention, which he did. We won 1-0 at Southend that day; Daryl Clare got the goal." That doesn't sound too bad to me, Richard. Is that the best you can do? "This year my birthday is on a Friday, and hey presto a Town match! I wouldn't have expected that five years ago. MK Dons sounds like a defeat, though. It's bad enough when you lose, but when you lose to a team that you absolutely despise it can ruin any day of your life, let alone your birthday." Pre-emptive moaning it's the future for forward-looking Grimbarians!
Tuesday 19 February
Now... do I wait for the results of the pitch inspection at half past one and then write a quick Diary to try and make the 2pm target for publication, or do I start now and carry on as if the game is going ahead, and then wait for the pitch inspection result and just add it on at the end, giving a 'real time' narrative effect? It's a tough call in these heady days of competition from citizen journalists and outsourced Indian call centres. But we'll go for the latter, I think. The Diary's spicy squash and red lentil soup can cook away in the meantime.
Undeterred by the fact that Town bombed appallingly on Saturday as a direct, verifiable result of everyone starting to talk about the play-offs, the Grimsby Telegraph has put a hex on the Mariners ahead of tonight's hoped-for Dulux Cup clash at Morecambe by running a whole bunch of stuff about playing in the final at Wembley on 30 March. This unpromising situation is not helped by the continuing thigh strain of Danny Boshell, who may be joined on the sidelines by Tom Newey, who has a poorly toe. The Telewag points out that one option available to Lord Buckley would be to recall Justin Whittle, who has played about ten minutes of first-team football since Town knocked Doncaster out of the tournament way back in mid-November. This would at least mean Peter Till could stay up in the hole, as Ryan Bennett wouldn't be needed in the back three and could step in to the right wing-back slot to replace Sam Hird (who played against Town for Doncaster that night) instead of Till having to do it. Got all that? Never mind; the pitch will probably be frozen and the game put back a week, so it doesn't matter.
Morecambe are doing their best to get the match on tonight, though probably after seeing the way Town performed without Boshell last weekend and have brought in some giant hairdryers to try and defrost the pitch. Insert your own joke here about they could have saved a lot of money by standing Buckley in the centre circle and asking him to demonstrate one of the half-time team talks he gives when his side is two-nil down at home and he's made two substitutions before half an hour was played.
You probably didn't know we try to publish the Diary by 2pm at the latest, did you? It's true, although we suspect that Durham Diary misread the instructions the first time he appeared as a Friday stand-in and has carried on in the belief that 2pm was actually the target for getting out of bed.
Grimsby Town supporters would expect, on reading the headline Macca rolls back the years, to be reading another story about our revered, retired and record-breaking right-back Sir John McDermott. Today, though, we would be wrong, as Morecambe's local paper The Citizen uses precisely those words to introduce a very short piece about their elderly goalkeeping coach being named as a substitute for tonight's match, if it happens. Steve McIlhargey, who is 46 and whose name I can't even guess at how to pronounce, could be on the very cold bench at Christie Park as the Shrimpers' first-choice keeper Shwan Jalal is cup-tied and their regular sub Scott Davies will start the match. He doesn't look anything like 46 in that photo though. I must find out which moisturiser he uses.
Oh, and they didn't even need to do the 1:30 inspection the match is off already. Great news for Town as long as Bosh gets well soon...
Monday 18 February
The Diary spent much of the weekend after Saturday teatime in a state of contentment, despite the Mariners' 4-1 drubbing by Football League n00bz Dagenham & Redbridge just before Saturday teatime. "See it in context," I told myself. "Town are still on a brilliant run of eight wins and three draws in the last twelve games." Which is true. But is this sort of optimism a kind of self-delusion as well as a denial of my miserable Grimbarian heritage? With no right-back in the squad now that Sam Hird has returned to Doncaster, and the Boshless midfield collapsing like a north-eastern building society overstretched in the sub-prime loans market, are Lord Buckley's players about to return to the lower reaches of the fourth division as dramatically as they hauled themselves out of it? I dunno, but after the disgraceful absence of motoring metaphors from the Grimsby Telegraph's match report when Town played Dagenham last month, David Pye has mercifully obliged this time, averring that "Town had not even found first gear while their first-time visitors to Cleethorpes were in cruise control". And Hird was blowing a gasket, of course.
"It's now sometime after 5pm on Saturday," writes John Pakey in an email to the Diary. "I've just read your entry for Friday. Bloody typical, you tempt Fate with a big old stick and look what happens!? If we spiral out of control now and finish in the mire of the bottom half I'm blaming you and not the players or Alan Buckley!" Sounds fair enough to me. In Mat Hare's search for positives, meanwhile, he is forced to look at the finer detail of Guest Diary's latest work. "Thanks GD!" he enthuses. "Stevedoring is a great word, and one I didn't really know before I read Friday's Diary and then looked up said word. I feel educated in the ways of GTFC and loading/unloading cargo ships. Where else on the web can you get that, eh?" We can only hope Mat manages to preserve this sunny outlook by completely forgetting to look at the score from Saturday.
In the last of today's emails Bedders corrects the date given in Thursday's Diary for Town's horrible defeat at Scunthorpe the other year. "Just for the record it was 6 November 2004, not 6 October," he writes. "I know this to be true as this disturbing event took place on my birthday." Ooof. Have any other Diary readers had their birthdays ruined by really crap results for the Mariners? Email and let us know!
And finally, Cod Almighty would like to recommend a brand new messageboard and Grimsby & Cleethorpes Takeaway Discussion seems to the Diary an eminently sensible idea, at least for as long as it manages to avoid postings such as "booooo sak the fryer" and "no ambishun no clue no kebabz".
Friday 15 February
You can get a T-shirt, you know, which says Alan Buckley's black and white army over and over again. Demand for them strangely fell off between mid-September and Christmas but if the Mariners keep up their excellent unbeaten run then the Cod Almighty T-shirt man might be having to fetch a load down out of the Cod Almighty attic as the fair weather (and its fans) comes into view.
This morning you can't buy a ticket for tomorrow's game against Dagenham & Redbridge for love nor money. The club phone just rings out endlessly. Now that might mean it has gone on the blink yet again, rather than all hands being at the ticket office pump to deal with an excited queue, but you never know. Your Guest Diarist dreams of buying his ticket online and, indeed, that most superb of all official sites offers that facility. But if you want to go in the Pontoon it would be nice to have a bit more choice as to which bit you get to sit in, and the whole process is, to say the least, unwieldy. Still, after 30 years managing software projects which caused strikes in Greenland, bankruptcy in Hong Kong and absolute mayhem in the stevedoring sheds at Immingham, who I am to talk?
The bad news, though, is that manager Buckley has confirmed that Boshell will not be risked tomorrow. A slight thigh strain, which should clear up within the week, could deteriorate into something that would keep him out for a month, Lord Buckley has explained in his weekly audience with Mariners World. With Bolland straining at his leash and yapping excitedly while Toner languidly pees on a lamp-post and eyes up that poodle from number 37, Buckley has, shall we say, options.
Alan also hinted that he might not pick Hird for his last match before the lad returns at the end of his loan spell. Whether this was a managerial 'if picked' retort or a real possibility I will leave you, gentle reader, to decide. He made it plain, though, that he likes the cut of Mr Hird's jib and forecast that we may see him again, explaining that he just didn't want to pay him more than players of similar experience and ability already at the club. They have categories, you know.
In case you were wondering about the reserves and how they did against Hull, they didn't, because the Hull lot threw a sickie. Mr Diary has been that busy dealing with your correspondence this week he never got chance to tell you. It is a shame because players like Toner would have benefited from a match.
Well, I just cracked, as the club phone is still not getting answered, and bought a ticket online. I am now the proud possessor of a Grimsby Town 'purchase order'. The whole process made this most experienced of internet shoppers feel slightly seasick as I waded through screen after screen like Alice down the flipping hole. It was also a nice touch to make me fill out all my personal details once when creating my log-on ID and then making me do it again when I bought a ticket.
But hey, it's gonna be worth it as we watch our Mariners start to become mighty again. Buckley said Macclesfield manager Ian Brightwell had told him that his side had been chasing Grimsby shadows in the first half the other night. And that on a night when we didn't play ever so well. Town have resilience; they bounce back after conceding, and the passing is improving. Get down to Blundell Park tomorrow and see it. But if you're buying online don't forget the Kwells. See yer.
Thursday 14 February
Jamie Clarke, what have you done? Not content with his stunning goal at Macclesfield on Tuesday night, which powered the Mariners to an eighth win in 11 unbeaten games, Town's crap right-back turned ace midfielder gave an interview to the Grimsby Telegraph afterwards in which he sought to play down the side's chances of promotion this season, insisting: "Nobody is outwardly talking about the play-offs." The genie is out of the bottle now though, with today's Telegraph talking up "the prospect of not one, but two trips to Wembley" and enlisting the indefatigable Dave Otter to evoke the spirit of '98 (shortly to be available from the club shop as a sophisticated unisex fragrance for metrosexual Town fans everywhere, except Grimsby). "We all remember what it did for the town 10 years ago. It galvanised the community and brought everybody together. People were happy going to work and it gave them something to look forward to," says the supporters' trust chairman, enumerating a flock of young poultry yet to break out of its shells. Shush, everyone! If you think about it, it won't happen!
Mark Wilson shares these concerns and has emailed the Diary to say: "Oh no! The BBC website has said it, the Telewag has said it, my mate from Stockport has said it and now you've bloody said it. It's official: Town are going for a play-off place. I liked mid-table obscurity by March and a season sliding away to nothingness because it was good for both my cardiac and mental health. Please don't mention it again and I'll promise not to post those pictures of the Diary and the 'lady' from Thailand on the worldwide interweb."
But the fragility of Town's hopes of making even the final of the Dulux Cup, never mind the play-offs, has been underlined by the Football League's choice of referees for the two legs of the northern area final against Morecambe. And if you had the power to choose them, who'd be top of your list? Not Nigel Miller and Paul Taylor, I'll be bound! Yet these are the wayward officials appointed to oversee the games, whom you may remember from such judicial disasters as Scunthorpe away in October 2004 and Darlington at home in March 2005. Take the positive? In Town's FA Cup win over Carlisle Five last month Miller appeared to have been replaced by a considerably more competent body double, so there are hopes to cling to; and at least the league seems to have listened to our concerns about that wanker from Hull.
Lastly today, before Guest Diary takes you gently into that good weekend, Al Wilkinson has emailed in response to the severe beating meted out earlier this week by Dave Clark to your poor defenceless Diary and the rest of the Cod Almighty team, who are unable to write pre-match factfiles until their counselling sessions are over. "Just to make whatsisname from Tuesday's Diary aware that not all members of the CA team sing from the same hymn sheet," writes Al, "I'd like to point out that I don't like the red socks, and I have no strong opinions either way on the new ground." Thanks, Al. When did you last write something for the site, by the way?
Wednesday 13 February
Well, well! After Town's 2-1 victory at Macclesfield last night the side's eighth win in a run of 11 games without defeat no-one can be heard crying "booo, Buckley out" any more; not even a particularly cynical Grimbarian mouse. Indeed, as Lord Alan Buckley's outfit close in on the top seven, talk of P45s appears to have been superseded by the 'P' word that dare not speak its name, and the scorer of the winning goal at Moss Rose, Jamie Clarke, has given a Grimsby Telegraph interview in which his chief task seems to have been to rein in his excitement and conduct a little expectation management. The trouble with this sort of exercise is that it is necessarily self-defeating: in playing down your prospects you are implicitly acknowledging that your prospects are good; otherwise you wouldn't need to be playing them down. And so Clarke's recent stunning successes at long-range shooting are not matched by his efforts to dampen our crazed hopes of escaping fourth division football in the right direction this year. "Nobody is outwardly talking about the play-offs," says the player, outwardly talking about the play-offs.
"Jesus, Diary," writes Rob McIlveen, aka Phil Ball's mate, "from a beach close to Tetney". Rob's blasphemous outburst results from his having followed the link in yesterday's Diary to the website of a band I saw playing live on Sunday.
"Mexican Kids at Home?" Yes, that's them. "The lower sixth in the music rehearsal rooms not really doing anything very much, more like. I think I'd prefer to sit through that Gong album that subliminally found its way into Tony B's unconsciousness. It's all a matter of taste, of course, and ordinarily I find your recommendations much to my liking. But on this occasion, I would have to say 'Boo dairy ur rubbsh u wankr'." That's OK, Rob; I'm just pleasantly amazed that anyone bothered to follow the link! If you don't like to hear young people from Derbyshire playing pretty tunes in which technical prowess takes second place to enthusiasm and fun, then you probably won't share the Diary's conviction that The Deirdres are the source of all the joy in the known Universe, either...
"Crikey! It's been a long time since I saw the word 'gaylord' anywhere. It was upgraded to 'gayer' years ago, wasn't it?" writes Pete Brooksbank in an email to the Diary, following Dave Clark's sensational slur on Cod Almighty yesterday. "Mind you, Dave's email
has got me all nostalgic for those quaint, yet oh-so-politically-incorrect, insults that would fly around the playground at primary school. So, yeah, Cod Almighty you're all spaztastic ming-mongs. Now I've got that off my chest, I'm off to nick a copy of Kick Off 2 from Woolies and hang around outside Wimpey with a copy of Look-In. P.S. Boston United just lost to Blyth Spartans. How much does it cost to become a Grimsby fan?" Three hundred quid a season plus your innocence, please, Pete. We might be able to do you a discount for giving us Jamie Clarke though.
Tuesday 12 February
As may be expected of a man with a 10-match unbeaten run behind him and two trips to Wembley in his sights, Lord Alan Buckley is in ebullient form this week and making the most of his position on the crest of a wave to splash water into the faces of some of his detractors. His TV interview last week seemed pointedly unsentimental about his attachment to GTFC, and since the weekend the Town boss has expounded at length to BBC Sport about his side's current run, with some choice quotes to remind us of its context. "In football if you win two games you're the best thing since sliced bread. If you lose two they want you sacked," reflects AB, glaring menacingly around Blundell Park. "As an experienced manager I take a more balanced view on that. But all of a sudden it's nice for the supporters to be optimistic." It is nice, isn't it? One hopes they can retain a bit of faith next time there's a downturn in form not to mention a memory longer than a goldfish's.
And while he's on form, Buckley has also seen fit to kick Lee Richardson while he's down. Following his side's 4-2 defeat at BP on Saturday the Chesterfield boss publicly denounced the dive with which Danny North won the penalty that opened the scoring and his counterpart has retorted with some vehemence. "I don't like to hear managers criticising players from other teams publicly. I don't do it," says the Town manager, who seemingly has no such scruples about criticising managers from other teams publicly. Richardson, he goes on, "is a relatively inexperienced manager and maybe he should show a little bit more respect to the opposition". The Diary would simply have pointed out that, had it not been for the point that Chesterfield cheated out of us with two dives for penalties at Saltergate in 2004, the Mariners wouldn't have been relegated to the fourth division in the first place, and so North and Gary Jones would never have been in a position to do likewise on Saturday but what the hell; it's all good fun.
While we're on the subject of ripping people to shreds, Dave Clark has emailed the Diary with an enjoyably vigorous and articulate tirade against Cod Almighty. "Whilst I like the nostalgia of your website, I have to say that you lot are the biggest bunch of whingeing cunts going!" he begins. "Town beat Chesterfield in what is arguably the best game we have been in since our relegation to League 2, and you lot complain that we didn't make the win comfortable enough! No compliments for the team or Buckley either, regarding a 10-match unbeaten streak what's the matter, not enough to whine about?!" Well, this makes a nice change from the usual charges of rose-tinted glasses and sucking up to Buckley! Put simply, Dave, the Diary tends not to bother commenting on the actual game very much, because by Monday lunchtime it's all been said already (not least on this site, of course, in Tony's match report and the post-match factfile). As for "complaining that we didn't make the win comfortable enough", you've missed my point, which was that the Sunday Mirror couldn't have actually had a reporter at the game if the first word they could think of to describe Town's win was 'comfortable'. But yes, it was a belter of a match, and how nice it was to see Danny Boshell embarrassing the idiots who booed his name before kick-off.
Old Davey boy ain't finished there, mind. "Also, when will you nimby gaylords give Fenty a break with the stadium debate?" he continues. "It isn't even a debate any more anyway if it gets built, it's going to be in Great Coates, end of. And why not one of you thinks the new ground is a good idea is beyond me! The pros of a move outweigh the cons by such a huge factor that your negative views just make you seem like a group of nagging old women, desperate to ensure that positive changes are averted for yet another 100 years, minimum! Get with it, you tools!" Right first, calling the CA team "nimby" is as inaccurate as it is clichιd, since none of us live in Great Coates and the Fentydome would not in fact be in my back yard, Guest Diary's vegetable patch or even the Postbag's allotment. Furthermore, regardless of whether you like the idea of the stadium and yes, we have every confidence that it will be a soulless corporate hellhole and hobble the club with insurmountable debts our whingeing is the very least that's necessary to balance the relentlessly upbeat, unquestioning coverage it receives elsewhere. You might be perfectly happy about that £6m hole in the finances, Dave, but there are plenty of fans who aren't, and if the Telegraph is too scared of Fenty's bullying to persist with the subject then we'll have to do it ourselves.
Hang on whaddayamean "nostalgia"?
One thing we might be justly criticised for is the absence of a pre-match factfile for tonight's trip to Macclesfield (in case you'd forgotten). So let's follow Guest Diary's excellent example last Friday and do a little one here instead. Peter Till, Rob Atkinson and Nick Fenton are a bit woozy following Saturday's exertions, while for the Silkmen Martin 'Hurrrrr, He Must Be Shagging Her Off The Telly, Hurrr' Gritton is hamstrung, while midfielder Levi 'Had A Trial With Town In July 2005' Reid is suspended after his fifth booking of the season. Ye olde Man Citye defender Richard Edghill is newly uninjured and could make his first appearance since November. Macclesfield have taken just two points from their last seven home games. American self-storage space occupies three times the area of Manhattan Island. This Diary was brought to you by Coronation Street, Mexican Kids at Home, The Doves of Venus by Olivia Manning, and my new computer not working with my external hard drive because Windows Vista is rubbish. Bye!
Monday 11 February
"Alan Buckley's Grimsby extended their unbeaten league run to nine games with a comfortable win," reported a crap tabloid yesterday on Town's victory over Chesterfield at the weekend. 'Comfortable' is not the first word, of course, that would come to the mind of anyone who actually watched the last half-hour of the game but then this is not a match that has brought out the best in the press. The Derbyshire Times places the Spireites' fightback in an unexpected form of transport, and a Grimsby Telegraph writer has conveniently forgotten he supports Manchester United to opine that "In a week when the multi-million pound conglomerate that is the Premier League made noises about selling its soul and shipping top flight football abroad, Grimsby Town and Chesterfield showed what the game is really about." Still, at least crowd trouble at a game against Chesterfield hasn't inspired David's colleage Matt Westby to glorify hooliganism again this time, so it's not all bad.
Not that this lessens the inconvenience experienced by many fans after Saturday's final whistle, and John Ide has emailed the Diary to ask: "Has Honest (Con) John made a pact with Blunderside plod to disrupt Grimsby Road as much as possible after the match to help him in his quest for the Fentydome? I walk to the match and it didn't bother me too much, but Brereton Avenue was also gridlocked as people tried to avoid the main road." This time, though, the blame surely lies not with the club but with the dickheads looking for a fight? "Plus there was an announcement that tickets for the Morecambe game would be available after the match, but the plod in riot gear would not let anyone coming out of the Imperial Avenue gates to access the club shop. Planning or normal lack of communication?" Ah, OK this time the blame lies with the club. As you were.
Friday 8 February
As the Roman poet Catullus said: "I hate and I love; why I do so, you may well ask." What brought this epigram to the mind of your Latin O-level graduate Guest Diary was the interview Lord Buckley and Kam-player of the month Danny North gave to the Sky Sports lot. Buckley, I suspect, still feels like a bit of an interloper at Blundell Park, desperately trying to work out how to make it 1998 again. He didn't use his 'unfinished business' line but you sense that may be because he has lost track of what that business exactly might have been as he plods along on the treadmill of the bottom division.
On the morning after a lot of us have resurfaced following a brief TV submersion in 1981 a year when Town played well in the old second division and had great characters in the team like Bobby Cumming and wore red stockings maybe we don't fancy the soundtrack of 1998 quite so much. A frankly awful year for music, and when I was first diagnosed with golden goal syndrome a condition where an unexpected happy ending arrives in such an unforeseen way that gnawing anxieties are not calmed and one is left with a sense of having ejaculated prematurely without noticing, and a continual craving to seek reassurance that we did actually win. I think that's what the psychologist said anyway.
But, notwithstanding, here we are in 2008 waiting to welcome Mr Jack Lester back to Blundell Park as the time warps continue. Town have all of their players (I don't count Butler any more) turning up for training today, reports that superbly new official Grimsby Town website. In fact manager Buckley has so many strings his bow is overloaded. To continue with Till attacking through the central areas; to recall Jones, who 'gives us a presence'; to continue with Boshell and Clarke in midfield, or to restore Toner (for his hundredth appearance) and Bolland. And then there is 'what do you do with a problem like Tom Newey'? These are the decisions that face the man who must take them.
Buckley, as world-weary as ever in reminding his interviewer that only he is brave enough to make his mind up on such matters, should consider being equally decisive in dealing with his workshy striker problem. Gary Jones has been playing in pain for three months and has delayed an operation for the good of the club. Butler, with a stiff back from too long in his Audi, throws in the towel immediately. So if the Lump graces the pitch tomorrow remember that and give him due accolade. Stiff back my arse!
Chesterfield have sent Adam Rooney and Michael Barnes back to Stoke and Man-Ure respectively, having signed winger Kevin Cooper. I'm telling you this because the Cod Almighty factfile team are too hung over or busy to write one today. So, in a nutshell, the Spireites have only won one in six, have plenty of players to pick from and are overdue to resume their promotion hunt by picking up points at Grimsby. Town haven't lost since Boxing Day, have loads of players to choose from, and need to play as well as they did at Notts County. Draw written all over it, eh? Mick Russell is the referee a bloke we haven't seen since Macclesfield away in the spring of 2006. You know the day when Butcher told us Picasso had a dog called Lump. See yer.
Thursday 7 February
Flushed with the success of his recent link-up with Edinburgh youth football club Hutchison Vale, Neil Woods has been off to the celtic fringes again this time to Northern Ireland, where Town's increasingly successful youth team coach has been cosying up with Greenisland FC. After Woods' visit last weekend, two lads from the club will train with the Mariners' youth side next week, reports the Mariners' superb new official website, also just dropping it in casually that Woods has an assistant called Adam Smith (well-read Diary readers insert your own jokes here about the transfer fee for the players being set by the free interaction of market forces). Incidentally, the SNOS is now joined by the Grimsby Telegraph in persisting to misspell the name of Town's new Scottish partner club, so don't come crying to the Diary when Hutchison Vale get the hump and Town miss out on signing the new Grant Brebner.
Wednesday 6 February
There's nothing to report today beyond a routine postponement for Town's reserves and a headache-inducing cinιma-vιritι transport feature on Mariners World about fans going to Notts County by coach. So, like media editors the world over, the Diary will today unscrupulously exploit its readers to fill out some empty space and give me an easier life. I mean explore the limitless potential offered by the innovative and democratic new concept of user-generated content. Yeah, that's it. Ahem.
And the first such user is John Pakey, who has emailed about the sponsor-driven "dedicate yourself to the club thing" that has occupied the Diary and its readers this week. "I agree, it is tosh. I mean, I think watching your team play fourth division football against Morecambe (and the rest) is already pretty dedicated. However, there are some of us out there who have named our pets after their favourite player. By the way, Macca is coming up to his third birthday and is fit and healthy. He's got a new little brother called Brandy. I was pushing for Croft, but mum was wised up to it now and was having none of it." Thanks, John maybe you could compromise on 'Guinness' next time as a halfway point between alcoholic beverages and Tony Gallimore. Readers wishing to fill in for the Diary by volunteering humorously apposite domestic pet/GTFC player combinations are guided to the usual email address.
"Hello you crazy Grimsbarianites," grins Pete Brooksbank, who has emailed on the same subject. "So, Wilko Value Paint want to know what lengths YOU would go to in your duties as a gullible football supporter eh? Well as a Boston 'Bankrupt' United supporter, surely I automatically qualify as the winner. That said, I will happily step aside and let Mike claim this dubious distinction for himself if he so wishes. But only if he implores Tony Crane to shed a few dozen more pounds/stone." The Crazy Legs worship continues at Pete's splendid website impsTALK, which explains: "Basically, if you don't think Tony Crane has been Boston United's best player this season, you are a retard. Fact." I'll believe it when I see the ball return to Earth from the penalty he missed against Morecambe in 2005.
Pete's email ends "P.S. sciatic nerve," referring to yesterday's Martin Butler story, in which the 'wantaway' Town forward ascribed his lack of fitness to a problem with his "septic nerve", which was all very believable apart from there being no such thing as a septic nerve. "Sometimes the septic nerve gets crossed with the optic nerve and causes you to have a crappy outlook on everything," writes David Jagger, explaining that this is "a quote from Carlos Benjamin. That'll be Town's Brazilian star, who used to do a daily commute from Rio, if I remember correctly!" Martyn Wyburn, meanwhile, has another explanation. "Perhaps Mr Butler is referring to his sceptic nerve," he ponders. "I've got one of those. It gets tweaked every time he says he wants to play for Grimsby."
Lastly today, Mat Hare is here to fill another gap in the Diary's knowledge, this time relating to the sponsor of that award won by Danny North the other day. "Powerade is one of them isotonic sports drink thingies," says Mat. "Y'know, those bright green and bright blue drinks that them athletes swear by. Supposedly so much better for you than water and makes you like 800% better than someone who drinks bog standard drinks. It's probably just a bit of them blue Mr Freezes mixed with some water or summat daft though. And what were they all about? Who the bloody hell thought raspberry flavour should be blue? But I digress. Powerade's basically just a cross between flat pop, squash and good old-fashioned water." Well, thanks Mat. The great danger of user-generated content is that you end up with Have Your Say, but today's Diary has been more like QI. Thanks everyone and I'll see you tomorrow!
Tuesday 5 February
Welcome to Tuesday's Diary, where all your second-day-of-the-week GTFC news urges are tended to with the highest and tenderest love. First up, hearty congratulations are due to the little puppy that could, Danny North, whose eager performances and four goals in January have earned him some sort of award as the fourth division player of the month. It's just a shame that the award is tainted by bearing the name of some sponsor's product that I've never heard of, is all. The other players in the running were Darlington's Tommy Wright, Glenn Poole of Brentford, and former Bust'un United striker Anthony Elding, who has suddenly got really good this season and just moved from Stockport to Leeds. "Not a lot of people know this. Northy started out as a central defender?" adds Town's superb new official website to its account of the news, putting a question mark on the end of a sentence that isn't a question? So it sounds like that fashionable new accent? With a rising intonation at the end of every sentence? Everyone has heard it? The one that started off in Australian TV soaps and spread quickly to the majority of the Anglophone world?
Today's Grimsby Telegraph is positively brimming with Town-related titbits. If one of them is anything to go by, then Martin Butler has been making his back injury worse by spending hours at a time reading what supporters are saying about him on the internet. "There are fans who will point the finger and will ask why I came and why I want a move away and I understand that," says the confused striker, adding that the cause of his pain is "a septic nerve trapped in my back". The Diary is neither a physiotherapist nor a seasoned peace negotiator but I cannot help reflecting that if Butler is making a bid for patience and understanding then it would surely help his cause greatly if there actually were such a thing as a septic nerve.
Elsewhere in the Telewag one of Butler's teammates seems more likely to win the trust of sceptical Grimbarians. Peter Till, whose tremendous display as a stand-in forward at the weekend terrified a lumpen Notts County backline, says he doesn't mind where he plays as long as he's in the team. "We had only lost one in 12 before Saturday so it wasn't as if I could go in and ask the gaffer why I wasn't playing," reflects the player, with a humility and patience that seem increasingly rare among professional footballers; Lassana Diarra is sure to take note. Elsewhere in the local rag, we learn that local teams are all in favour of the new-fangled plastic pitches Town are on about building next to the Fentydome. "More than 30 club managers and representatives... pledged their support to the scheme," reports the paper, conjuring dark images of a shadowy Masonic-style rite involving candles, Latin chants and the ritual letting of blood.
Pat Bell has emailed the Diary in response to Monday's tirade against the latest bunch of toss designed by a corporate sponsor to twist a few more quid out of fans who are already heartily sick of shelling out nearly 20 quid to watch fourth division football. "Re marketing aimed at football fans bravo, yesterday's Diary," he reflects. "Pretty hard to foul up the case for energy efficiency, but those carbon 'footy'-print ads (my toes curl as I type) bring about a strange urge to personally flood several Pacific islands." Just so, Pat, and in a similar vein the Diary is still protesting against the fourth division being renamed "League Two" at the behest of the Football League's sponsor by necking 12 cans of Pepsi every morning before breakfast.
"Right, I need your help," writes Michael Shelton on the same subject. "I don't have the replica kit of my choice, so I'm going for this colouring competition. I get the feeling this is one of those competitions won by someone who answers 'yes' to every question. But I wouldn't dye my hair zebra style (though I did spray it for an away match in my younger days), I hate tattoos in all forms, I don't have a house, and the thought of my daughter being called John Clive Ivano is frankly stupid. The obvious solution is to lie. But then what if my answers are legally binding? My only other option is to get on eBay and bid for Rankin's tent. Help!" What should Mr Shelton do? Is there such a thing as a septic nerve after all? Readers! Email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org and put us out of our misery at least until the next time we have to watch Notts County trying to pass a football.
Monday 4 February
Lord Alan Buckley successfully avoided the manager of the month award and we should have beaten Nottingham Kickbackers. That's about everything, isn't it?
Oh, alright then. Tickets have gone on sale for the home leg of the Dulux Cup area final against Morecambe later this month. I can't really be arsed to paraphrase all the "season ticket holders get first dibs" stuff from Town's superb new official website, so go and have a look for yourself.
What? You want more? Well, you know that since football became socially acceptable in 1990, large companies have realised that football fans are the ultimate consumers, hence the proliferation of advertising that seeks to align the product with football, so that gullible consumers will be sold on the notion of 'proving' their love for their team, or indeed for football itself, by buying the product? And you know the way a large proportion of these ads make us look like complete nerks to non-football supporters by portraying us as life-free weirdos who dye our hair to match the kit, have a tattoo of our club's crest, decorate our house in our team's colours and name our child after our favourite player? Then you will recognise the gist of a frankly quite wretched sponsor competition thing on the SNOS, the prize being "a club strip of your choice", which is brilliant news for the millions of fans who must have done the whole hair dye/tattoo/paint the house/name the child combo and just managed to forget buying the replica kit. Johnstone's Paint, you feeble twats.
Friday 1 February
"Martin Butler is a complete prat." Discuss. Any self-respecting Grimbarian GCSE student would have a field day with that one. And for those of you who need some crash revision on this most unfortunate of signings, here is your Guest Diarist's first draft of Butler for Dummies.
Mr Butler said on the last day of December: "It's a really good dressing room, they've made me feel very welcome. I'm now looking forward to knuckling down, getting some games in and kick-starting my Grimsby career." Within a fortnight the Worcester-based striker was sick of driving to Grimsby and was after a transfer. Now he had a three-month loan period before he signed, in which he could have worked out that it is a long, boring and, ahem, uncomfortable commute across the middle of the country.
But no, he signed a long contract with the Mariners. And then, to cap it all, yesterday he turned down a move to nearby (for him) Hereford and buggered off to Lilleshall in a fit of pique. Lord Buckley says that he is not injured but "very uncomfortable". Perhaps he needs one of those beaded mats so beloved of minicab drivers? All I know is that this crazy football industry continues to pay players who refuse to work. For fuck's sake, it just makes you want to scream. I would have been so embarrassed that a small wage cut would have been the least of my worries in putting a neat end to a frankly sorry little saga like this one. Martin Butler is, indeed, a complete prat, regardless of his football talent. I rest my case.
In the end the fakery that is transfer deadline day turned out to be a bit busier at BP than we expected. Butler didn't go, but Isiaiaih Rankin allowed the club to cancel his contract. Which was nice of him. Apparently because he fancied cosying up to decent coach but managerial joke Peter Taylor at Stevenage. This was a very nice piece of business in my opinion. And young Heggggarty could go to bed last night thinking: "Ooh, somebody asked about me."
But the best news of all is that Lord Buckley managed to persuade Barnsley to let us keep ever-improving centre-half Rob Atkinson until the end of the season. Believe me, I am Justin Whittle's fourteenth biggest fan, but young Atkinson is the sort of composed young centre-half that we need to supercede him. And when he goes on to better things we have Ryan Bennett to step into his footwear. Bearing in mind the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' maxim, we retained average-defender-but-no-wing-back Sam Hird for another month as well.
In fact Buckley has revealed to the myriad of Mariners World watchers that he has made Hird an offer. Hird won't stay all season, apparently, as he wants to swallow the shilling (which is a bit like your partner saying they won't go out with you any more unless you marry them). But Mr Hird has baulked at the offered wages. No doubt more on that story later on in the season.
Ciaran Toner won't make the team again tomorrow, but might be fit enough to sit on the bench (which is another daft habit why put half-fit players on the bench when you are not short of choices?). Paul Bolland has had an injection for his aggravating ankle injury and it remains to be seen whether this has settled it down. Tom Newey is gritting his teeth after getting injured doing that block tackle thang. And Buckley says he doesn't mind him and Hird doing the channel hoof. Although the great man has noticed that the main stand dentists don't like it. AB then muttered something about Brazil and self-consciously creaked his new leather jerkin.
Wrexham has seen the error of its ways and has restored Town's Friday night away game there to Saturday 23 February. Which means that, according to the superb new official website's only slightly out-of-date fixtures page, that there is only one other Friday fixture home to the Bastard Franchise Scum. Which I won't attend on principle anyway.
This unbeaten run has to end sometime let's hope that it is not tomorrow. See yer.