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Diary - November 2008
Friday 28 November
Town record profit. Your Guest Diarist read this superb new official website headline as usual, the wrong way. Hmm, I thought, is a £100k or so operating profit really a record? I know Town are not a profit-making institution but surely one of those years when we sold somebody for a big six-figure number we ended up making more than that? Of course, "Town record profit" was written as a short sentence with a verb in it so the club only just scraped a profit despite one of those 'slices of footballing fortune' the tax people talk about.
If you burrow through the accounts (and I don't suggest you bother: it's just too dispiriting), as well as the small shiny nuggets of improvement in all the main revenue streams which Mr Diary highlighted yesterday, you see the same old depressing stuff. Stubborn, hard-to-shift debts, an obstinately high cost base and a right old tangle of loans and converted sponsorship deals that have now become pension contributions or summat. All owed to one Mr J Fenty, honourable Conservative councillor.
Honest John, of course you will remember, has attempted to secure his various loans and financial guarantees to the club of about £1.5m by a debenture which means he gets the club's assets if it goes down. The bank, to whom we are perpetually maxed out to about half a million quid, has a similar debenture. None of the directors bought any shares and in fact there was only a total of £1,300 invested in shares in the whole year (and no-one has bought any at all this season, the auditors say). No-one has the confidence any more to invest in Grimsby Town Football club and that's a fact.
And the substantial sums spent on the Fentydome pipe dream which the club attempted to capitalise last year (as though the stadium construction had really started!) have had to be written off as of no tangible value. "In view of the protracted planning application" was the board's reasoning to do this, according to the accounts. The council's fault again, they imply I just don't understand how this over-ambitious scheme whose business model was completely outmoded and rendered unviable over the ten years or so it existed can be said to have failed for regulatory reasons. They just never bothered to keep sanity-testing the idea for continuing viability as times changed. The chairman's pipe dream has been added to the debenture he holds over the club. Yes, it was his money that was invested but you have to assume that the club now owes that £600,000 to the chairman.
You know you have to tug your forelock and thank Christ that Fenty has kept our club going through a real bad spell. But sometimes I wonder what would have happened without his intervention. Whether the club could have managed the position better and who might have stepped forward as it reached the very edge of the financial abyss. But it's too late now only the most partisan of white knights would step in now and rich Grimsby fans are few and far between. So surely the club must play the percentage game and slash the cost base? Here's the question the fans must face up to: do they want a more financially stable club, even if it plays Conference football or take odds of about 1/3 that the club will go broke?
But wait; I am too gloomy readers want good news every day. Well, young Mr Normington has been given a two-year senior contract by Mr Re-Newell. Does this mean Lord Buckley was right to contract the lad in the first place? Buckley bashers have been predicting wholesale changes in the Town squad but this move implies that Newell's predecessor perhaps did retain an eye for the future. And it was also good to read that the club has reached an amicable settlement with Buckley the least he deserved for having the courage to come back when asked. I still say the way he was dismissed was handled in a very poor and cowardly way by the Town board.
The tiny part of you that is relieved when Town don't have a game these days is far outweighed by the prospect of a long weekend without anything to root for or worry about. Still, I'm sure you will each find your own way to do it. Having digested these wretched figures I know where I'm going the nearest opium den. Have a good one, and see yer.
Thursday 27 November
What do successful big clubs have that the Mariners don't? They have lots of money. They have big stadiums. They have supporters who, by and large, understand that being a supporter means actually going to matches and supporting, rather than scrabbling round for excuses to sit at home on their arses and whine like spoilt toddlers. And they have Coaching Structures. Town are as distant as ever from acquiring the first three, but today they have taken a step nearer the latter with the appointment of Brian Stein as chief scout. Stein worked under Mike Newell at Luton and, as well as doing chief scouting, "will also offer a supporting role to assistant manager Stuart Watkiss", says the club. "The board sees this appointment as part of its medium to long term planning," explains Town's superb new official website an assertion not entirely supported by the Grimsby Telegraph's revelation that the initial terms of the deal "will see Stein stay at Town until the end of the season", but I guess they can always extend it later. Just like every other supporter, the Diary has no realistic idea at all as to whether the Mariners' new Coaching Structure will be a great success or not, but it's what successful big clubs do so I'm dead excited!
Town's turnover rose from £2.3m to £2.9m in the 200708 financial year, yielding a pre-tax profit of almost £118,000. Booo Fentys cheap option booo. It seems from the club's newly published accounts that this was due in large part to the final of last season's Dulux Cup unless you have a better explanation for gate receipts rocketing from £823,000 the season before to £1.29m in 2008. But credit is due to the Mariners' backroom staff, with impressive rises in revenue from non-footballing activities: income from sponsorship went up from £360,000 to £427,000, retailing and merchandise from £149,000 to £213,000 and catering from £432,000 to £459,000. Just imagine how much more there'd be if they had a website that was fit for purpose too!
A couple of Diary readers have emailed on the subject of former Town players turning out in non-League. Boroughparker, who interestingly follows Workington as well as the Mariners, points out Martin McIntosh playing for Alfreton and the legendary Terry Barwick on the books at Stalybridge Celtic. Alan Richardson, meanwhile, writes:
Had to email on this one. I'm an exile (who isn't that reads The Diary?) living in Stamford which means my new no. 2 club are the Daniels (nicknamed after an obscenely fat man who died in the town insert your own joke), who also play in the Unibond South.
Smashing stuff, Alan thanks very much. It reminds me of Dave Gilbert's spell with Lincoln United, when a certain member of the Cod Almighty team got absolutely trolleyed while watching them and took pains to inform Gilbert afterwards that not only that he bloody loved him but also that he was his best mate, he was.
Anyway, I went to watch them the other weekend (while Town were at Bury) against Sheffield FC. Stamford dominated the first half playing nice football but went in at half time 2-1 down, then resorted to lumping it forward and snatched a 2-2 draw. Took me back a few years. Matt Oswin played for about 70 mins and did pretty well and they've just signed Miles Chamberlain. Sheffield also had Scott Partridge playing for them not strictly one of ours, but he'll do due to his dad.
Got me thinking about other Town players I've seen there. I watched the big Stamford vs. Spalding derby game in about 2000 with Gary Childs and Dave Gilbert both playing although I can't remember on which side. What I do remember was Gary Childs strolling around the centre circle and basically running the game. He then chipped the keeper from about 40 yards class! Dave Gilbert's contribution was hugging the touchline and walking on his tiptoes. Why did he do that? (Other than to appear taller.)
Alan's and Boroughparker's emails bring us neatly to another topic of discussion to keep the Diary ticking over perkily until Town start winning games regularly: the teams you support other than GTFC. I don't want to know about you sort of follow Liverpool on the telly because you once pretended to be a Liverpool fan to fit in with the other kids in the playground at James Meadows but if you've got a non-League bit on the side near where you live (since nobody who actually lives in Grimsby reads the Diary, apparently!) then email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll have a look next week. Over to Guest Diary tomorrow, and here's to a result at, um, is it Port Vale on Saturday?
Wednesday 26 November
In the end Liam Trotter and Mike Newell decided to give it another month, but it availed little at Macclesfield last night as Town again failed to win a game they had the better of in the first half, at least. There was hitting of posts and decrying of goals wrongly disallowed for offside; there was some decent football played as well, and if the Mariners are yet to hit the winning run that will lift them decisively clear of the fourth division relegation zone, Newell's side is at least now in the habit of losing narrowly and drawing a distinct improvement from just a few weeks ago.
Five Star Mariners is a headline from the superb new official website, on a story about the youth team following up their 3-2 win over Scunthorpe in the Puma Youth Alliance League Cup on Saturday with an excellent 5-1 triumph over Walsall in the Midland Floodlit Youth Cup last night. And there you were thinking it was a wheeze by John Fenty (Con) whereby Town pay back in a renaming sponsorship deal some of the cash the former Five Star Fish supremo has sunk into the club.
Grimsby Town are not the only side in northern Lincolnshire and not even the oldest to have very recently recorded their first league win of the season. The area's senior black and whites, Brigg Town, finally did likewise last Saturday, watched by the Diary, and it caught my attention that their first-half penalty was scored by Nathan Would. Sure enough, he used to play for the Myspace Mariners, you know as did Paul Ashton, Nathan Emson and Alan Lamb, who have all been registered with Brigg this season. With Giovanni Carchedi at Lincoln United and Darren Mansaram now having joined Retford United from laughing stock Leigh Genesis, the Northern Premier League Division One South is a veritable stockpile of former GTFC youngsters. Are there any names I've missed? Does a half-forgotten ex-member of the Mariners' youth team now strut their stuff in a non-League side near you? Email email@example.com and tell us all. Anything's better than looking at the league table.
Tuesday 25 November
Whether it's because he chooses to go back to Ipswich and fight for a place in the first team, or because Mike Newell decides to look elsewhere for reinforcements, Liam Trotter looks likely to play his final game for the Mariners at Macclesfield tonight. "I'm so happy to be here and to be playing. It means a lot to me," said the Ipswich loanee last Wednesday, only to talk of a return to Portman Road two days later as Town prepared for their bottom-of-the-table meeting with Bournemouth. Today Mr Re-Newell seems to have taken matters into his own hands by telling the Grimsby Telegraph that a hypothetical new loanee signed for a month from Thursday would be eligible for five games, whereas a third month at Blundell Park for Trotter would span only three because of the Mariners' early FA Cup exit. The really vital piece of information that Town fans will be looking for in the run-up to tonight's match, though, is that Martin Gritton is a best-priced 7/1 with Blue Square and 888 Sport to open the scoring marginally better value than the 15/2 available from Bet 365 on Martin Butler.
"That wretched Gloryhunter project had remained off my radar until I read today's Diary," wrote Pete Brooksbank in an email to the Diary yesterday afternoon. "Navigating to his blog on the ITV site, I immediately spotted the problem. This is a man who boasts of paying £35 to 'co-own' Ebbsfleet (he owns nothing) while shuddering at the thought of dropping down to the 'Blue Square Northern League' (there is no such league). He's Tim Lovejoy's bastard lovechild, isn't he? Both insufferably patronising and woefully ignorant. I confidentially predict Gloryhunter will be supplying witless banter with thicko players and dullard pub bands like The Pigeon Detectives on Soccer AM before the end of the decade." Well said, that man the Gloryhunter has a little way to go before he matches the telling "League Three" howler in Lovejoy's autobiography, but it's only a little way.
Monday 24 November
What have we learned from The Draw That Felt Like A Defeat? Jean-Paul Kalala must be signed permanently when his loan expires in January, as without him the team remains fatally static in the centre of midfield. Other than that, it's all pretty much what we already knew: Town's left side remains horribly weak; for all his good intentions, Danny Boshell can't be relied on any more; Nathan Jarman is a superbly talented footballer whose best position may not be up front; and Friday football is always shit. It is possible, in the light of the Mariners' cowardly collapse against Bournemouth, to wonder whether Ryan Bennett's elevation to the captaincy at the age of 18 will prove to be a case of too much, too young, but a special endorsement comes today from an illustrious predecessor. "To be a captain you have to have the right attributes to be a leader and be talkative on the pitch. Ryan has those assets to his game already and the responsibility of having the armband will, I'm sure, be the making of him," former Town skipper Justin Whittle has told the Grimsby Telegraph. I'm not going to argue with him are you?
Cast your mind back to the beginning of the season, and amid the qualified optimism of a fresh start, with two clean sheets in two games and talk of a play-off push, you might remember a visitor to Blundell Park calling himself the Gloryhunter. This was a Tottenham fan who was going to do a web publishing and book project with ITV by choosing a team at random to support the Mariners, as it emerged and transferring his allegiance to the first side to beat them, and then the next side to beat Town's conquerors, and so on. Except now he isn't, because Darlington, where he's most recently pitched up, lost to Droylsden in the FA Cup the other week and, well, he just doesn't fancy Droylsden because, er, they're not very good, innit (and their name's a bit hard to spell). Contortionism fans can marvel at a man tying himself in knots in the Gloryhunter's pitiable efforts to justify himself, and if the Gloryhunter project had grown from the grassroots without the influence of private companies, things might have been different; but this laughable sell-out goes to show that you can never expect these stunts to have any integrity when commercial concerns are involved. It's not even like football's experiences with ITV in the last decade have all been uniformly happy and successful, now, is it?
Friday 21 November
So we got a win last week; now can we conjure the forces of nature and produce a biting north-easterly to accompany the home match against Bournemouth tonight (which will be played in front of virtually no away fans) and get that rarest of treats a home victory? The bookies still make it odds against Town winning two on the trot (to the tune of 7/5) but there may never be a better chance.
Oh, hang on, look who the ref is none other than deadly Dave Foster. Foster: the man who doesn't spot a flying elbow at five paces but who sees offences committed in a parallel world and hands out random cards for them, causing much upset in the home terraces from fans not blessed with second sight. Think Bradford at home a year ago, gentle reader. And let's have a competition to guess in which minute we hear ironic applause to accompany one of his decisions.
Your Guest Diarist wishes there was a special font to express irony. One has been mooted it was in the paper the other day: bold ironic. When Town fans dream of their messiah they are sometimes bold but seldom, sadly, ironic. All too often they sigh and imagine the return of some former local demi-god or the one-hit-wonder prodigal returning chastened and full of promises to carry our load and rescue us single-handed. Occasionally the bait offered is bigger and juicier; the fishy cocktail involves not just a player to knock in a few goals at the end of his career, but the passing-on of coaching wisdom, and also the single-handed regeneration of the town's fading property market. There are sore mouths from those sharp rumour hooks all over the messageboards this morning, methinks. Now think on, folks Town got themselves into the current predicament and Town will have to get themselves out of it.
Continuing with the ironic theme, I hear the Gloryhunter (a bloke spending an entire season drifting from team to team switching allegiance to whoever wins as part of a daft ITV online project) has ended up supporting Droylsden after they dumped Darlo out of the cup. Couldn't happen to a nicer bloke, eh?
Any road, that's quite enough hubris for one Friday morning how will we manage without the splendid, but suspended JP Kalala tonight? Manager Newell told Mariners World yesterday that obvious replacement Hunt has a niggly calf. Elsewhere Mr Newell has sung the praises of Clarke's recent performances on the right-hand side but, with Till fit again, the depth of that affection and regard will be tested as he scrawls the team sheet in that delightful Liverpudlian hand of his.
So let's not dream of get-rich-quick merchants descending on our club we can aspire to better than that. Let's while away the hours until kick off imagining a solid defence, a combative yet creative midfield and goals aplenty scored by bright young local strikers re-finding their potential. Actually, even a scrappy 1-0 will do courtesy of short-term loan players and a bad decision by a rubbish referee. If we lose tonight the knives will be out again and that doesn't bear thinking about. See yer.
Thursday 20 November
With uncanny echoes of Russell Slade's period in charge at Blundell Park, a foreign trialist has been shown the door by GTFC after the club failed to get international clearance for him to play in a reserve game. The arrival earlier this week of Malaga left-back Carlos Delgado Rodriguez brought a little excitement to the hearts of everyone connected with the club except Tom Newey, but filling in a form to get permission for him to turn out against Sheffield Big Wednesday second XI at Stocksbridge Park Steels on Tuesday afternoon proved a bridge too far for Town's crack backroom team of paperclip counters, and the player has been packed off back to south-western Europe with only the opposite of a straw donkey to show for his weird sojourn in North East Lincolnshire. French AM/F L Mickaλl Buscher will return to Cleethorpes on Monday and continue his bid to win a contract with the Mariners, but fans with fresh memories of the Slade regime are already braced for an influx of six-foot-seven centre-backs, former Sheffield United reserves and irate half-hour phone calls to Cod Almighty writers.
Speaking of which, Mike (no surname given) has emailed the Diary to point out: "I'm pretty sure that Russell Slade's 'The Frenchman' remark was aimed at the Frenchman Thomas Pinault rather than JPK." He certainly referred to Pinault in that way during the extraordinary buck-passing outburst that followed the 2-2 draw at Notts County in 2005, Mike, but I'm fairly certain he used the same term to signify Kalala at some point too. I could be wrong, but I don't really feel like trawling the archives now because I've just remembered that horrible "I could get any female off the street" part from the Meadow Lane inquiry. Town's current manager may not have contributed positively to the women's rights movement but at that moment Slade would have made Mike Newell look like Germaine Greer.
If you've ever thought Town fans can be unduly harsh from time to time, take a moment today to gauge the reaction of Bournemouth supporters to their new signing Matt Tubbs. The acquisition by the league's second-bottom side of a player they have never seen has got the Cherries faithful spluttering furiously that the end of their club is nigh. Do keep a little perspective, people!
Lastly today, Keith Collins has emailed the Diary to say: "I was working down in Swansea recently and got talking to some Swans fans about our plight. It seems they were in a similar position a few seasons ago and the possibility of them falling from the Football League into the Conference. The big danger was that once in the Conference they would not be let back into the Football League because their ground wouldn't meet the current safety standards. They moved to a new ground for that reason. I am sure, if it's true, we would have a similar problem because of the Main Stand (incidentally the oldest stand in the Football League) being constructed of wood. I have not the time to check this out but maybe someone already knows the answer." Oh my God the end of our club is nigh! Just kidding, KC but Swansea seem to be doing just fine now, and while many football supporters worry about relegation, surely it takes a true Grimbarian to worry about permanent relegation?
Wednesday 19 November
Russell Slade's two-year tenure at Blundell Park saw a number of recurrent themes. There was a tendency towards direct football. There was much use of the phrase 'work ethic'. There was a belief that anyone who speaks French must, in fact, be French, even if they are African. And there was a tendency for foreign players to turn up for trials, only to leave the next day after the club failed to secure international clearance for them to play a reserve game. While Mike Newell has not, so far, referred to Jean-Paul Kalala as "the Frenchman", one of these themes was reprised yesterday as Town's second string beat Sheffield Big Wednesday 2-1 without the assistance of young left-back Carlos Delgado Rodriguez, who had arrived from Malaga for a run-out but as not foreseen in any way by yesterday's Diary was unable to play after the paperwork didn't go through in time. Fellow trialist Mickael Buscher made a second appearance for the stiffs and two goals from Danny North should place him in contention when the first team face Bournemouth this Friday, but the GTFC admin team's apparent inability to operate a fax machine means that, for another week at least, Tom Newey can relax. Sorry I mean Tom Newey can continue to relax.
Staying with yesterday's reserve game, there is, as yet, no word from Mariners chiefs on whether the substitute named on the club's superb new official website as Liam Da is a further foreign trialist or whether a Team SNOS member typing in the name of youth teamer Liam Davis got distracted by Robbie Fowler pulling up in the BP car park. These things happen, you know. The Diary is still waiting to learn "How to join up with the Mariners" 16 months after the SNOS promised that "How to join up with the Mariners will appear here soon".
Still staying with yesterday's reserve game well, there's not much else to tell you about, really Mark Wilson has emailed the Diary with another observation on the teamsheet. "The SNOS reports that a Bradley Wood(s) turned out for the stiffs yesterday," he writes. "Tell me that's an in-joke and some wag at the Nou Camp of the North uses that name for anonymous trialists. Is this going to start a trend? Can I expect Freeman Street and Bradley's brother Wybers to turn out for the Mariners? I demand to be told!" Not so, Mark the SNOS explains elsewhere that "Bradley Wood also Leicestershire born joined the Mariners School of Excellence at U16's. Bradley is an ultra competitive right full back who can also play in central midfield." That's settled, then though the Diary is still searching for information about Bradley and Wybers' younger sibling Weelsby, youth team centre-back Sidney Park, and the Marsh brothers, East and West.
It's a "Friday Night Football Special" when Bournemouth come up to Cleethorpes for a big six-pointer this weekend, which is good news for local parents of children who are under 16 but old enough to stay up until ten o'clock and interested in watching their local football team, as the club won't be charging for said youngsters to attend ("Download you Kids Free voucher here"). This occasion is rather less special, however, for fans of Bournemouth, as the decision to switch the game to the Friday night means so few of them are able to make the journey that the coach booked to carry them to the game has been cancelled.
Tuesday 18 November
The Diary's super-sensitive alarm bells were ringing yesterday afternoon when Town's superb new official website reported that "Carlos Rodrigues... a left sided defender who has been playing for Spanish Division One side Malaga" could be turning out for the reserves today and a Google search for "Carlos Rodrigues" and "Malaga" returned 1,060 results which had nothing to do with football. Happily for the world at large, the Grimsby Telegraph has proved itself rather more adept at the highly demanding job of getting somebody's name right. It is Carlos Delgado Rodriguez, apparently, who is supposed to be playing away for the stiffs against Sheffield Big Wednesday this afternoon, and the Telegraph very admirably shows greater restraint than the Diary in declining to mention again the SNOS's hilarious and entirely characteristic mix-up the other week between Town trialist and ex-Carlisle midfielder Neale McDermott and non-Town trialist and current Kidderminster striker David McDermott.
In the highly likely event that GTFC's skilled and knowledgeable backroom staff secure international clearance for Rodriguez to play in a few minutes' time, the player will line up alongside fellow trialist Mickael Buscher, who also turned out for the second string in last week's 4-1 win over Barnsley amid global conflict about his playing position. "I play left midfield but I like to play as striker, too," Buscher tells the Telegraph today, glancing at the Diary and the SNOS with an expression imploring us to settle our differences peacefully. Amid all the excitement there are two salient points. First, the arrival of Rodriguez, shortly after a trial for young Barnsley left-back Jacob Butterfield, suggests that Town no longer have a management team who believe Tom Newey should be exempted from competition for his place. Second, Mike Newell, despite not visibly smiling once since arriving at Blundell Park, clearly has a terrific sense of humour, having told Dave Otter of the Grimsby Town Supporters Trust that he "won't go looking abroad" for players and awarding trials to a Spaniard and a Frenchman approximately twelve minutes later.
"Well done to everyone who relieved the bookmakers of a few quid on Saturday," writes Mat Hare in an email to the Diary. "I did the same myself, but not in the way suggested by Guest Diary. I've been around long enough to recognise when Town are consistently inconsistent so even the 9/2 wasn't enough to tempt me. However, the bookies had priced up the corners market poorly, in my opinion. The stats for both sides indicated a match between two good corner winners but also sides who were known to concede a few too. So all in all the evens on over 11 corners looked like a cracking bet, and so it proved with Bury beating that total on their own. So it's not always the goals that count." Thanks, Mat. What about the market on two rubbish, half-arsed yellow cards being given to the same critically important player?
Martin Robinson is another who has emailed to share his happiness in the wake of THAT Saturday. "Unbridled joy in the Robinson household as my son rang his granddad to tell him the unbelievable news: 'The Mariners have won a match!' Text sent across the world to LA, where the St Pauli branch of the Town supporters club are presently residing. 'About time they won, when are the play-offs?'" Twelve points above the relegation zone but only 18 below the play-off zone... that's the spirit!
Monday 17 November
"14:55, Monday 17th. The Monday after THAT Saturday and still no Diary," reads an email sent at 13:55 by Ken Andrews, who is presumably still working to British Summer Time. Before THAT Saturday the Mariners' last league win was at Mansfield on Saturday 22 March, a week before the clocks went forward for the summer. Ken can easily be forgiven for having a mixed-up internal clock today, as he is probably far from being the only Town fan thus afflicted. "Everyone in shock?" he wonders. "PS: I was there. Great, weren't it?" Sadly, I wasn't. At the final whistle on THAT Saturday, as hundreds of text messages radiated from Gigg Lane to absent Mariners scattered through the land, one reached the Diary as I was changing trains at Stockport station en route to Stoke-on-Trent. And for once I'd had a bet on Town to win instead of lose (as suggested by Guest Diary here on Friday). Suffice it to say that the underground concourse at Stockport station has tremendous acoustics.
Jeff Westerman is another whose joy at Saturday's result was sweetened all the more by the turf accountants. "I was indeed daft or stupid enough to wage on Town winning, for which my five pound stake was greatly rewarded," he grins in an email to the Diary. "Never lose faith in your team! The amount of idiots who had backed against Town in the pub on Saturday was unreal thank you Diary for inspiring me. Keep up the good work. UTM!" Did anyone else make a few quid out of the weekend's extraordinary result? Did you not make it to the match but celebrate as if we'd won the European Cup when you got that text message at full time? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your tales of THAT Saturday!
The Cod Almighty team has been in various states of absence and drunken delirium since approximately 4:55pm on Saturday: hence the lack of a match report, but Pat Bell has submitted an account of the game to the CA editorial desk and it will be published as soon as we sober up enough to operate the site's content management system hopefully in the next hour or two. Now, could someone bring me a strong cup of black coffee please?
Up the bleedin' Mariners!
Friday 14 November
Thought for the day: if the glass looks half empty, try tipping the contents into a smaller glass. Another Town match against unexpectedly play-off-positioned opposition tomorrow with a trip to seventh placed Bury. Your Guest Diarist has just dozed his morning through yet another slow, sonorous Mariners World interview with manager Newell where he rehearsed the self same points made in the last one. And the one before that.
You want to know what they are? Well, when you boil it down you are left with a nasty brown sludge in the bottom of that glass: a squad with too many unstable youngsters; a team whose spine is composed of players on short-term loan; a set of rules that only allow one more loanee (you can only play a maximum of five loan players in a game); a set of lads who have lost the belief they can actually win a game despite impressing in training; and a manager who is worried.
Despite the minor problems briefly mentioned above, the good news is that everyone you'd expect to be fit enough to be in contention to play, errm, is. Barnes had a bad arm but the "panic" has subsided and he trained on Thursday. Till's hamstring, which caused his early substitution in the last game, has prevented him training, but the Telegraph quotes Mr Newell as saying: "Tilly and Matty have both been back training so it's good we have a virtually a full squad available." Mr Re-Newell has made it plain that the starting line-up will be built around the four loan players plus Barnes. I don't think you can dispute that the four loanees are the best four players at the club right now; as for the other positions, it doesn't seem to matter greatly who fills them at the moment, to be brutally honest.
Embedded in the same Telewag article, by the way, is a video clip of Peter Bore talking to himself. Now I may have been previously guilty of taking the mickey out of this young man; if he had talked like this in the past I wouldn't have been so merciless about him. Let's hope his penny is dropping as he promises to work hard in training and do his best in the reserves.
Let's salute the stoic Town fans who will watch Town tomorrow, and pray for the fourth away goal of the season. Let's hope that the lads compete for every ball in the whole match and get lucky. Let's hope the balti pies in Le Stade de Gigg are up to scratch. And let's hope some of you are brave enough and daft enough to back Town at 9/2 tomorrow it's a hell of a price in a two-horse race, especially when the other runner is as inconsistent as hell. Now don't start with your broken-down nag analogies we have to be positive. There's no other choice. See yer.
Thursday 13 November
Much as geologists derive information about various periods of history by examining successive strata of rock, experts will one day be able to build up an accurate cultural history of England by studying the alternation of eras where children were given quite sensible first names with periods when their parents clearly had some sort of psychological episode in the registrar's office. No, there isn't much else going on today, which is why the Diary has opted for an oblique look at the Grimsby Telegraph's report on Town's various junior teams. If you look at the bottom of the page, the under-15 and under-16 teams mostly have fairly respectable footballers' names such like Danny and Robbie. Granted, there is a certain 1990s vogueishness in such monikers as Jordan, Ryan and Liam, but scroll back up the page to the under-nine and under-ten sides and you find yourself confronted with the likes of Harrison, Kai, Keelan and Reece, which should clearly all be illegal to use as first names outside Hollywood. What the future historians will glean from this about English society at the turn of the 20th to the 21st century is unclear, except perhaps that parents were no less pissed out of their heads all the time than anyone else.
Which brings us tidily to today's next item: Tony Gallimore being outed by a teammate as an enormous pisshead. In his recently published autobiography Danish striker David 'The Golden Dude' Nielsen who made a big but brief impact for the Mariners during a loan from FC Copenhagen in the 200001 season is unequivocal about the former Town left-back's fondness for a drop or two. "In England they drank until they couldn't talk any longer and hardly could stand," writes Nielsen (courtesy of Jostein Jensen's translation). "That was the rule. And the managers knew it well, as they drank themselves. Drinking is in their culture. In Grimsby our left full-back was alcoholic. He had been on Antabus several times and had been in rehab for alcoholism. He was named Tony Gallimore and came in every day smelling of booze. Weirdly enough, he played terrific in the games; he was also the sweetest man off the pitch. But after every training session he hurried through the shower and drove straight to the pub, where he remained the rest of the day." Not so much a revelation as a confirmation, of course. Readers looking for something a little more surprising are directed to the Wikipedia entry for Nielsen, which mutates the 'player X was knobbing player Y's wife' formula into the infinitely more scurrilous (and interesting) 'player X was knobbing player Y'.
"It seems to me Town's demise is typical of today's labour market," writes Dave the Engineer in an email to the Diary. Steady on, Dave they're not dead just yet! "People take jobs, whether they really want them or not, hoping that something better will appear on the horizon. Unfortunately as a pro footballer when you have reached the bottom there is little chance of climbing back up again, hence motivation and commitment disappear. Sadly the young lads we have without the mercenaries, with the odd exception, are not good enough. Still, up the Mariners." I can't disagree with any of that; the issue is whether the new manager can reverse it. Call me a crazy optimistic fool who's spent far too much time away from Grimsby, but the Diary reckons Mr Re-Newell has exactly the right personality to sort it.
That's all from your regular Diary for this week, then it's over to Guest Diary tomorrow, but I'll see you next week. Thanks for reading. Cheerio!
Wednesday 12 November
Hard-nosed GTFC officials have upped the stakes in a blazing high-profile public row about whether the club's latest trialist plays in midfield or up front. Yesterday the club's superb new official website informed Town fans that former Gretna player Mickaλl Buscher, who will appear for the reserves at home to Barnsley this afternoon, is a midfielder flying in the face of the two or three websites the Diary found during a half-arsed Google search which reckoned he's a striker. "Buscher is a left sided midfield player," insists the SNOS today (giving a starting XI for the stiffs which includes another trialist in Neale 'Not David' McDermott). "We've put a lot of work into getting the position of this player right and the lack of support from the council is extremely disappointing. I don't think there's any qualms about that. In terms of the position of the player, the attitude of David Burns has been extremely frustrating. I'd sell the club if somebody wanted to buy it, except I wouldn't. Nothing could be further from the truth. Vroom vroom!" John Fenty might have said if anyone had asked him.
Town fans thinking Adam Proudlock could be the medium-term answer to the team's goalscoring problems have got another think coming. After narrowly failing to mark his debut with a goal at Morecambe last Saturday, hopes are high among supporters well, as high as hopes ever get on North East Lincolnshire that the Darlington loanee could be the heavyweight forward the Mariners have been crying out for since the retirement of Gary Jones but Proudlock's manager has put a dampener on the notion of the transfer becoming permanent when it expires in January. "He needs games and we can't guarantee them at the moment. But he is very much in our future plans," Darlo boss Dave Penney told the north-east's Sunday Sun newspaper. "He has worked hard on getting into shape and now he needs match sharpness, which is why he has gone to Grimsby." "As one door closes, another one slams in your face," responded GTFC spokesman Mr E Blackadder.
"I got sent this poem by an friend in Colorado who has been watching our team's plight with open-mouthed amazement," writes Jeremy Baily to the Diary. "I posted the link on The Fishy; you might like to read it too." The poem is 'Casey at the Bat' by Ernest Thayer; Jeremy adds: "For Mudville read Grimsby. I know it's about baseball, but it fits us as well (written in 1888). Hope you like it." Yes, thanks for sending it. The parallels are quite remarkable, with one major exception: at the Mudville game "A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest/Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast", whereas at Blundell Park it is more usually the "straggling few" who remain at the final whistle, "the rest" having already turned their backs on their team and fucked off home with ten minutes left to play, purportedly in the hope of avoiding non-existent traffic congestion.
Tuesday 11 November
Last week ex-Carlisle midfielder Neale McDermott joined Town on trial, and Town's superb new official website announced that Kidderminster forward David McDermott had joined Town on trial. Clearly chastened by the panning it received for its gaffe from the Worcestershire media, the SNOS has today reverted to its long-standing practice of simply giving the wrong playing position for incoming trialists. Credit where it's due, because the site seems to have got the umlaut present and correct in the name of "former Gretna midfielder Mickaλl Buscher", but every other source the Diary discovered during my painstaking 28-second Google search insists that he plays up front. Wikipedia adds that Buscher is a 21-year-old Frenchman who scored twice for Gretna in eight appearances last season after joining from Nice, while the Daily Record reports that the player has also trialled with Hearts. Any old how, he's playing for the reserves at home to Barnsley tomorrow and, the SNOS adds, has recently taken his search for a new club as far afield as Gamibia. I mean Tunisia.
You have to admire Mike Newell's chutzpah for trialling a Frenchman and signing a Democratic Republic of Congolian within days of telling the supporters' trust Q&A thingy that he wasn't after any foreign players. You have to admire Mike Newell's ability to look good in a jumper with a shirt and tie. And if you've got any admiration left after all that admiring, and you can read a blog-style article on a mainstream news website without gagging at the stupid comments people leave at the bottom, you might care for a look at this thingy about Mr Re-Newell on the BBC. The gist of it is that he's driving all over the country every night to look at potential new players; apart from that
there isn't much you won't already have read a gajillion times in the weeks since the your man got the job (apart from a section of gibberish about golf) but there's a smashing moody photo in black and white which makes him look like somebody out of one of those American films about laconic men in suits who shoot each other.
Thank You is the headline of a new item on Town's superb new official website today. Is it, as the Diary's first instinct suggested, thanking supporters for sticking (to some extent) with the club through the worst run of results in all 130 years of its existence? No. It says: "THANKYOU to everyone who has already done their Christmas shopping online through www.gtfcdirect.co.uk especially those who have taken advantage of the fantastic Wii offers at Play.com." In fairness, the club's online retail portal thingy is probably a decent way of
helping to pay off Martin Butler raising much-needed funds for GTFC, though one earnestly hopes that in the subsequent pronouncement "We'd also like to the person who booked at Hotels.com" the missing word isn't 'spoon'.
Tom Carpenter is also concerned with ambiguity on the internet. No, really he is. That's why he's emailed the Diary to say: "Alarmed to see on the Telewag site the headline I'll shift dead Woods. Until I discovered the 's' was formed by the intersection of Mike Newell's neck and collar. However, in the spirit of slating the local media: is this any way for the club to simultaneously announce the passing of a club legend and the decision of the manager to move into undertaking?" If it ever were to happen, Tom, I think that would be quite a good way for the club to announce it, but in the meantime would anyone actually notice if Chris Llewellyn were replaced by a fossilised tree?
Monday 10 November
We lost again then.
Friday 7 November
Your Guest Diarist asked the question yesterday. And blow me down, the Town manager answered it in a matter of hours. Despite the Telegraph reporting a couple of days ago that Richard Hope "is sidelined with a long-term injury" Mr Re-Newell told his interviewer on Mariners World that Mr Hope is fit and raring to go on Saturday. He added that skipper Heywood hadn't trained all week and so must be very doubtful but would be given every chance to shake off his sulk and to be considered for selection on Saturday. Newell's choice of words to follow this might be considered unfortunate: "but if he is injured we are in a stronger position than this time last week". No doubt Mr Newell was referring to the return of the excellent Atkinson and the large dark horse that is Hope. Or maybe he wasn't.
Newell also responded to his interviewer's question about signings to confirm that he is expecting one or even two more players to join the squad in the short term. This, of course, is after the arrival of Atkinson, Kalala and, yesterday, none other than Adam Proudlock the perma-tanned fat bad boy who knows where the back of the net is so we don't mind him coming even though he shunned us in 2004 saying he couldn't be arsed to play through a relegation struggle. OK, take a deep breath and we'll carry on, gentle reader. Oh, hang on he wears white boots as well, as I recall.
Proudlock has played eleven times for Darlo this season, and has reputedly "been working hard" on his fitness over the past month possibly because he woke up one morning, realised he had completely stopped scoring and might soon be out of work at the beginning of a major worldwide slump. It would seem that he will start for Town tomorrow but who will partner him (if anyone) is a subject for debate. Verbal analysts may have noted that Newell listed his strike partner options in this order: Jarmo, Northy and Peter Bore (the man too straight to allow himself a nickname?).
Poor old Morecambe are, bedevilled with loads of injuries but their official site provides little insight into whether any of the nine injured first teamers will make it tomorrow. Top scorer Rene Howe is definitely out with a hamstring thingy though, as is Man-Ure reject and supposed danger man Mr Twiss. Morecambe were flattered by the 1-0 defeat in the paint cup to Tranmere on Tuesday their goalie, Roche, pulling off four top saves to keep the score down. Methinks if ever Town are going to win again then tomorrow might be the day. But keepers always play out of their skin against Town these days it's the law, so I will promptly revise that forecast downwards a bit.
Well, that's it for this week, folks let me know if you spot Danny North giving Adam a tour round the fast food outlets in Meggies won't you? See yer.
Thursday 6 November
As we all stumble through our lives weathering a constant barrage from news, information, misinformation, messageboards, blogs and old-fashioned rumour-mongers, we occasionally miss an important fact. Your Guest Diarist in fact woke up this very morning wondering who had won the American election in the end. But more importantly, perhaps, the knowledge that I am missing is "what exactly is wrong with Richard Hope?" Hope, you may remember, came with Heywood as part of the pre-season plan to shore up the defence, using sheer size and bulk as a substitute for the perceived rather namby-pamby skills of the daydreaming scaredy-cat Fenton, who had been pushed out of the door in a fit of angry pique by Buckley at the end of last season.
Now Town fans will know that in the past few years we have tried, with varying degrees of success, various types of centre-back. At one point we went all gangly-beanpole, starting with Rob 'The Stick' Jones. This was an apparent failure for ages until the Stick had a damascene moment at Sincil Bank. From that point on he became able, much loved and heroic, consistently head, shoulders and upper chest above the players around him in every way. Later, after Chairman Fenty had brusquely dismissed Jones' request for a bit more money, idly quipping that only strikers got pay rises because people didn't come to watch defenders, and Jones had justifiably buggered off to where his ability would be appreciated, we signed Fen Butcher.
Now history repeats itself, but not in this case. Enormously lanky, but very poor in the air and not in receipt of any nepotistic respect, Futcher was a total failure and didn't last long. So the beanpole theory went from Hawking to Icke in one season.
Before that, of course, Town had a history of converting ageing strikers with 'tight thighs' to be centre-backs. It started with Garry Birtles and continued with Steve Livingstone. Both players gave their all for the Town cause and should look back on their contributions with pride. The pride should come from their eagerness to fight for the team rather than the quality of their centre-halfedness. In similar vein of course, Paul Groves pretended he was taller than he really was for a bit and marshalled his awful defence from the back. Another great idea that never really worked.
This is turning into a bit of a history lesson, gentle reader; by now you may have realised that there is no news worth mentioning yet today. Morecambe have a lot of injuries (does that cheer you sufficiently, Mr Baily?) and that's about it so far. Oh, and the superb new official site reckons they might tell us later that we might sign another player before Saturday. The rumour mill is shouting Proudlock. We'll just have to see.
Lest we forget, Town occasionally have had truly great players at centre-half: guile and elegance personified (Handyside(s), Futcher senior and, all too briefly, Todd) and raw courage with a never-say-die team-lifting spirit (Whittle, Lever, Jobling). And the latter is really what is needed most now. Hope's spring is not, it would seem, eternal he just seems to have gone missing. Heywood looked the part on his debut he looked a leader of men, but the confidence rapidly sapped to the point where he has handed over the armband to nobbut a promising youth a whippersnapper has outperformed him consistently of late in thought, word and deed.
Last season Bennett was denied a great opportunity a full season playing centre-half alongside Whittle, a lesser player but one who would have mentored him superbly. It is to Bennett's credit that he has managed to mentor himself and come through a difficult 12 months without losing confidence in his ability and with his motivation undiminished. All he asked for was a chance to play centre-half with a reliable partner.
With Whittle stupidly ignored and sent away to the wilds of Yorkshire, Buckley played the Crane card and signed Heywood and Hope. Mr Re-Newell has, I believe, recognised the deficiencies of these two gentlemen and has, rather diplomatically, gone along with the perception that they are injured, allowing him to sign Rob Atkinson on loan. Now that sounds cruel; maybe Hope does have a long-term injury as reported in passing in yesterday's Telegraph. And maybe Heywood's thighs are tight after all. But you know, I'm a self-confessed cynic.
Whatever caused us to get where we are, I'm a lot happier with Bennett and Atkinson than what I briefly saw of Heywood and Hope; maybe at last Town are trying a new centre-half pairing based on how shall I put it? ability, motivation and potential. It could be the best tactic of all. See yer.
Wednesday 5 November
Sometime yesterday Coventry City's official website reported that Nathan Jarman and Danny Grant had bagged two each as Town won a reserve game against the Sky Blues by four goals to three. Excited enough to run a quick Google search, the Diary found a Grimsby Telegraph match report from six months ago, saying that a lad called Danny Grant had moved up from the Mariners' under-14 side to the under-15s and put in a superb display at full-back in a 4-0 win over Chesterfield. This morning, however, Town's superb new official website reported that the Danny who bagged a brace against Cov yesterday was not Master Grant but Mr North. A 15-year-old full-back scoring twice for Town's reserves in a tremendous 4-3 away win against a second-flight club? Or Town's superb new official website getting something right? It's like trying to decide whether Barack Obama (a) is a Muslim fundamentalist warmonger who wants to explode your face; or (b) will lead the world into a new era of peace, freedom, equality and ecological salvation by Thursday teatime.
Town's youth team have emulated their elders in the first XI by dominating a game and failing to win. Local not-really-rivals Lincoln City sent a side up the A46 last night which was second best for much of the match but contrived a 1-0 victory to eject the Myspace Mariners from the "FA Cup Youth Cup" (SNOS) in the first round. Still, you can't expect miracles if their best players are going to be poached by the reserves, can you?
In 1995, when he became the first player to move from Grimsby to West Brom under Alan Buckley, he was rechristened Aggie the Baggie. After almost a decade of work at Staffordshire community side Whittington FC, he now answers to the title of West Midlands amateur coach of the year. Paul Agnew was handed the gong at a thing called the FA's annual Charter Standard Awards, reports the Tamworth Herald, which details the other admirable coaching work the former Mariner is involved in these days. Agnew, of course, is fondly regarded by Town fans for almost 300 appearances in all competitions over 11 years at Blundell Park, and his name evokes happy memories of the Mariners' past status as a higher-division club and a bygone era of left-backs who were at least vaguely any good.
Your regular Diary is having two days off this week rather than just Friday, so the industrious Guest Diary will be filling in here for the rest of the week. Before I leave for the capital, there's an email from Al Wilkinson, who has risen to the one-upmanship challenge posed on this page yesterday. While many of us knew someone who thought central midfield was Danny Butterfield's best position, Al can go a step further. "I know someone who thought that Tony Crane was better then Andy Todd," he claims. That's nothing I know someone who thinks the Diary is better now than it was in 2004.
Anyone wishing to continue this game of one-potato-more, or begin a more fruitful activity of any sort, is advised to contact Guest Diary using the feedback page. I'll see you on Monday t'ra for now!
Tuesday 4 November
At just 18 years of age, Ryan Bennett has seen a lot. More than 50 starts for the Mariners' first team and over a dozen more as a sub. A full cap for England under-18s. A fourth division apprentice of the year award. A Dulux Cup final from the Wembley subs' bench. He has already served as Town's youngest ever captain and, remarkably, will now continue in the role while Matt Heywood is absent through 'injury'. "I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that I'm giving the armband to Ryan, to be honest," says GTFC manager Mike Newell, who is known for being honest, "because there are a lot more experienced players on the pitch than Ryan and yet, what I've seen in him in my short time here is that he's the first choice." The young southerner will remain captain until the sooner of two occurrences: Heywood returning from his 'thigh strain' in two weeks' time and reclaiming a place in the first team, or Wolves sending a scout to watch Bennett a couple more times and then offering £150,000 for him.
The Diary has often reflected upon what a shame it is that, although Town have a superb new official website, it's only usually Town fans who get to appreciate just how superb it is. On Monday, though, the sheer level of superbness attained by the Mariners' thoroughly professional internet publication was noted as far afield as Worcestershire when fans of Kidderminster Harriers discovered from the SNOS that their club's forward David McDermott was on trial at Blundell Park. Now, those people who like to criticise the club will doubtless dwell on the fact that this official announcement soon turned out to be completely untrue in every way. As a loyal supporter of the SNOS and all who sail in her, however, the Diary prefers to emphasise that the site went on to change its story in full, so that no visitor could be left in any doubt that the player actually on trial at Blundell Park was not Kidderminster forward David McDermott but ex-Carlisle midfielder Neale McDermott. Got that? No? Happily, the Worcester News has given fully deserved publicity to the SNOS's unparalleled heights of superbness. Pats on the back all round.
Not to be outdone, Kidderminster's own official website notes that David McDermott "was another player to impress boss Mark Yates in the summer of 2998". This is obviously of no concern to us here, because David McDermott is not on trial at Blundell Park, but Neale McDermott is 23 years old and has only started 16 league games for his five clubs so far, so there isn't much to tell you about him other than the fact that he's scored five goals in the process. Town's other new arrival for a trial, meanwhile, is Barnsley's Jacob Butterfield: now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time. The player is clearly not the twin of former Mariner Danny Butterfield, however, as the latter will turn 29 later this month while Jacob is just 18 years old and, more significantly, Jacob is able to play both at full-back and in central midfield.
Last up today, an email to the Diary continues the raging debate that's on everyone's lips: whether Town lost at home to Newport County in the 197172 season. "No," rages Kirky, "we lost at home to those giants of the time, Crewe and Southport, in successive home games. We beat Newport. My claim to fame is that I once knew a Newport County fan. Not a lot of us can say that." Fair play, Kirky; that's not bad going. You've got a long way to go to match the Diary, though, as I once met somebody who thought central midfield was Danny Butterfield's best position.
Monday 3 November
Town fans who spent the weekend stroking their chins over Matt Heywood's future may be scratching their heads instead, or something, after Mike Newell revealed that the captain's substitution half an hour into Saturday's home defeat by Darlington was not tactical but due to an injury. After the visitors were gifted an ultimately decisive two-goal lead by a shockingly poor start from the Mariners in which Heywood played no small part many spectators greeted the player's withdrawal with glee, and the passing of his armband to 18-year-old Ryan Bennett seemed a potent symbol of the manager's willingness to put noses out of joint in search of a first league win in more than half a year. Today, however, the Grimsby Telegraph quotes Newell to the effect that Heywood "took a tight thigh into the game and he came off with it". The injured party looked a good signing when joining the Mariners in the summer after being named Brentford's player of the year, but has since struggled for form, drawing criticism from supporters, and Town's vast improvement at the back on Saturday after he was replaced by Blond Bob Atkinson can hardly have escaped the manager's notice tight thigh or no tight thigh.
Atkinson, of course, was one of two players making their second GTFC debuts at the weekend after rejoining the club on two-and-a-bit-month loans last week. Quite understandably not content at that, Mr Re-Newell has let it be known that he is in the market for more. As former promising youngster Danny 'Royale With Cheese' North continues to disappoint this season, the manager said after the Darlo wipeout: "If I can add another one, maybe two, then maybe we can start to get a result." And if that one, maybe those two, perform to the heart-warming standards shown by Blond Bob and Jean-Paul Kalala then the Mariners' survival in the Football League might not seem such a fanciful prospect after all.
So if the ground is falling apart not to mention the plans for its replacement then at least the team is being rebuilt. Diary reader Chris Beeley escaped the dangers of falling frozen beer signs by sitting in the Main Stand for the Darlo game, and has emailed with some observations from his vantage point behind the dugouts:
(1) Newell and Disco Stu don't appear to be speaking to each other Mr Newell stood icily silent in the 'technical area', Stu stood a few feet away doing that funny knee bending thing he does when talking or doing, well, anything really, and not looking pissed off enough for my liking. You would have thought some communication on what the hell was happening with our defence early doors may have been in order, but there wasn't even any eye contact. Has Stu borrowed Mike's v-neck pullover and returned it all stretched?
That's the first paragraph of today's Diary ruined by point (4) then. Thanks a bunch, Chris!
(2) Our players have all started to look about 14 no wonder other teams beat us up and nick our dinner money or maybe it's me getting old, you know, policemen looking younger and all that.
(3) Apart from one scream of "You're not fit to wear the shirt" from the back of the stand after Ravenhill scored the obligatory ex-player's goal, there was surprisingly little moaning from the general public is this good or bad I wonder? Are we resigned to our fate?
(4) Heywood pretended to be injured when he was taken off for his own safety after half an hour, clutching an ice pack to his knee theatrically only Town could have a captain that the crowd are delighted to see depart.
(5) Bennett had a stormer after Heywood's departure, I suppose playing alongside a liability can affect your game and Atko gave him the confidence to just play his game shame about the hair though Ryan.
(6) Dave Moore is lighter now than he was when he was in the team.
Oh, and Grant Normington's got a green 2002 Ford Focus, and there is so much dog shit on the streets around Blundell Park nowadays that I began to wonder if it was being used as some kind of chemical warfare against football supporters in Cleethorpes, perhaps part of the anti-Mariners conspiracy backed by moronic messageboard contributors.
"You talk about Newport County circa 1971," writes Martyn Wyburn in response to Guest Diary last Thursday, I think it was. "I could be wrong but in the '71-72 season Town only lost two home games, and I'm pretty sure one was to Newport County. Not sure of the significance of this but it just adds to the miserability quotient. On the other hand it could mean that we'll win at Wycombe later in the season." That'll be it exactly!