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Diary - February 2012
Wednesday 29 February
Thanks for joining us on this Day of Leap. I was going to start by making reference to Town's 'leap' up the division, but that would've been bloody awful, even by your West Yorkshire Diary's standards. Mind you, anything I do today doesn't count. The slate is wiped clean tomorrow, as if today never existed. That's how 29 February works, right?
Let's begin by congratulating Michael Coulson on his performance for the England C team last night, who drew 1-1 with their Italian counterparts at Fleetwood's Highbury ground. Micky Coulo played the full 90 minutes on the right wing and did well by all accounts. Town favourite Liam Hearn was also there, watching his teammate from the stands. There was a lot of love shared between them on Twitter yesterday, as the stalkers among us will know. I was led to believe that Anthony Elding was there too but doesn't do that Twitter stuff, so his affection remained offline.
It's difficult to say how Elding suddenly went from zero to cult hero with the Town fans because to me the transition wasn't that obvious. A few scratchy performances from the bench early on in the season, coupled with some borderline OGs that were later claimed as AEs were alright, I guess. But what really seemed to solidify his affection with the Town faithful were his performances beyond football against Lincoln City over the festive period.
Ever since he received a two-game ban from the FA for making that alleged gesture (do I still have to say 'alleged'?), a lot of fans have been left in the dark as to what this gesture actually was. Thankfully, CA reader Phil Shorter has been in touch to explain all. "Elding was playing to the John Smiths stand at the Lincoln game pointed to the Lincoln supporters and made what is universally recognised as the 'tosser' mime. Don't expect there would be any evidence." Thanks for that, Phil. Yeah, I mean, who needs evidence? I can only surmise, in the absence of any evidence, that the prosecution's case was led by Lionel Hutz and that Elding's solicitor (ever mindful of his client's untouchable social media standing) just said: "Yeah, two game ban, whatever. Hashtag eldingfacts. BOOM!" and walked out.
Anyway, on to today's news. Town stopper James McKeown has been telling the Telewag that he looks up to England and Man City keeper Joe Hart, which may or may not get people in the mood to think about England's friendly against Holland tonight. I guess it depends on whether namby-pamby friendly internationals float your boat, and whether you feel a connection at any level to those that wear the shirts and represent your country. For the record, my boat sank after striking the iceberg of egotism at some point just after Euro '96.
At the opposite end of the sport's spectrum, the Telewag also reports that the 116-year-old Grimsby & District Saturday League is on its knees and could soon fold news that has saddened Dave Boylen. The paper also reports that former Grimsby, Cleethorpes & District Sunday League vice-president William Rennie sadly passed away last week. The 'Serious Scot' seemed like a man who could tell you a tale or two given his experiences. Our thoughts and best wishes go to his family and friends.
Tuesday 28 February
When Deadly John (Topcon) asked members of the Mariners Trust earlier this month to give him part of their shareholding in the club for free, several things got your original/regular Diary's spider sense tingling. One of these (as pointed out lucidly by Too Good To Go Down) was that the £200,000 of investment promised by Deadly in return was money he'd pledged previously. So the former chairman was belatedly attaching conditions to a promise he'd already made.
Another problem, to my mind, was the list of further conditions and demands Fenty was attaching to the deal. If the trust hands over the shares, he said, then the club would "work hand in hand with The Trust [sic] to promote the trust activities in a positive manner". But surely, if there's anything of substance at all in the Right Noises we've heard from John about supporters' involvement, this should be happening anyway, regardless of the share transfer? By making a partnership with the trust conditional upon the handing over of shares, Fenty is effectively saying: "If you don't do what I say, I'm not talking to you any more."
Then again, another condition was that the trust "agrees not to accept any further shares from Mr Mike Parker". Why has no-one questioned this? If Fenty believes in fans having a say, and he's concerned that Parker's outside-the-boardroom shareholding is too big, why would he object? Maybe all those Right Noises about supporters' involvement don't have any substance after all.
Many fans, whether they support the proposed share transfer or not, seem annoyed by the timing of the whole thing. Just when you thought it was safe to buy a half season ticket... we're reminded again of all Fenty's fist-in-mouth 'statements' on the SNOS, his Alan Partridge passive-aggressive masterclass with David Burns, and our own suspicions that Shorty and Shouty would have been sacked back in the autumn had there been a chairman (that chairman) in place to do so.
And now we learn that the goalposts have moved during the voting process, with yesterday's news that "in principal [sic] GTFC have agreed that the Mariners Trust should have a position on the football club board". This would, of course, be an excellent thing, but again, the timing of this announcement in the middle of the vote on the share transfer seems a little curious. I support the trust and I think most of the criticism it receives is perverse and ridiculous. But I can see why some supporters are calling for the voting process to begin again.
Many fans are arguing for a yes vote on the grounds that Fenty seems to be the only multi-millionaire currently prepared to 'invest' some of his pile into the football club. If there's one thing more harmful to the club than Fenty's disastrous record of managerial hiring and firing, it's this very dependency culture that his overspending has created. Most fans see our choice as being between Fenty and hoping another rich man comes along. The thought of running GTFC sustainably isn't even on the radar. Mention living within our means to most fans, after several years of Deadly John's addictive, toxic subsidy, and they'll laugh and tell you it can't be done.
But evidence to the contrary is all around us and even above us. Just off the top of my head, clubs like Hereford United, Dagenham & Redbridge, Burton Albion and Exeter City are less well supported than Grimsby Town, yet are all thriving at Football League level without running up millions of pounds of debt. Wimbledon, of course, go one better and provide a model of supporter ownership as well as self-sufficiency. Many Town fans never stop banging on about Scunthorpe's supposedly tiny attendances. But if Scunthorpe can exist in the second or third tier without a benefactor in the model of Fenty or Mike Parker, surely the better-supported Mariners can do so even more comfortably?
Over on Twitter, Wrexham supporter Ian H has drawn an intriguing parallel between Fenty's offer we can't refuse and a request in 2008 from would-be Red Dragons investor Geoff Moss. Moss asked the Wrexham Supporters Trust to give him the £300,000 its members had raised, on the understanding that he'd 'invest' it into the club and add the same amount himself. There was even a place on the board on offer for the president of the trust. "If we'd taken Moss up on that offer, we wouldn't have a club now," says Ian. "Can't bow to blackmail or short-termism. Stay strong."
And finally, it's worth remembering that saying yes to Fenty wouldn't, in fact, be a vote to secure the future of the club indefinitely. The deadly one's pledge is merely to continue overfunding the club to the end of next season. So, 14 months, then. After that? Who knows. Perhaps we believe promotion is actually a cast-iron certainty, either this season or next, and then we won't need to worry any more. Well, there'll be plenty of Luton, York, Cambridge and Mansfield fans ready to disabuse us of that idea. One or two more Wrexham supporters might have something to say too.
Monday 27 February
Miss Guest Diary writes: I have to confess that I feel slightly pleased about the outcome of Saturday's game against York. Of course, I didn't actually like seeing Town lose. But the game itself was entertaining and the goal came near enough to the end not to spoil that too much. And, to be honest, York are a really good footballing side and probably deserved the victory. But I didn't mind losing because I find this whole FA Trophy competition annoying and something I think we could do without.
Having a second competition (on top of the FA Cup) where the rounds are scheduled for Saturdays means any progress results in lots of Saturday games rearranged for Tuesday evenings as has now happened for Town. For one thing, this has caused a big fixture jam in March. For another, if, like me, you make a general plan for the season when the fixture list comes out, it can cause havoc with your social life. Being knocked out prevents any further fixture disruption, which can only be a good thing in my eyes.
And Shorty sort of agreed in his post-match interview on the SNOS. Not about the defeat, obviously, but about the benefits of no more fixture changes: "We know exactly where we are now, when games are gonna be." He manfully resisted going too far down the football clichι route of saying they'll be concentrating on the league, merely mumbling the words "league" and "focus" before moving swiftly on.
I did feel a small pang about going out of the trophy when I saw that Wealdstone are one of the semi-finalists. Since I learned a couple of months ago that ex-GTFC man Wes Parker is the club captain, I have been keeping an eye out in the hope that Town might be drawn against them. In the late 90s my partner and I began several years of shirt sponsorship for various Town players, usually the younger members of the squad. We eventually stopped because we felt we were jinxing their careers: none of the players we sponsored ever made it as regular Town players.
We sponsored Wes in the 2003-04 season, after which he left the club. I seem to recall talk of a health issue which meant he might not play again, so I was really pleased to come across him on Twitter the other month. He is now an accountant as well as playing semi-pro at Wealdstone. I have no idea what happened to most of the other players we sponsored, but I can advise that the shirts are all still going strong and being worn on a weekly basis by the Welton Mariners in a Lincoln six-a-side league.
The Grimsby Telegraph reports that Frankie Artus's injury is not as bad as first feared and he may be back in a couple of weeks. As well as making me shudder, the description of him "hyper-extending his knee" did put me in mind of Twizzle, a TV show I watched as a young child.
And finally, good luck to Michael Coulson on his call-up to the England C squad for the game against Italy tomorrow. I hope for his sake he gets into the starting eleven, but I hope for Town's sake that he doesn't get clobbered by any hulking defenders. Ciao.
Friday 24 February
Mardy Diary writes: I don't feel I can really make my mind up on this Anthony Elding thing, you know? I think it's the lack of any real evidence in either direction so what we're left with is rumour, conjecture and supposition. And this then becomes fact just through internet repetition. If we say it enough times, then it is so.
Paul Hurst told the Telegraph: "The way we understand it, there is no video evidence." This is immediately interpreted, in the comments section of the Telewag website, as evidence that it is merely the viewpoint of a single fan that has sentenced Elding. But, to me, that in itself is not evidence enough. Now, I don't want to jump to the defence of the FA they are useless at the best of times but before I fire any missives in their direction I'd like to be in full possession of the facts. Unfortunately, fans are unlikely to get access to full transcripts of the hearing and any evidence put forward in the case, so this is unlikely.
But supposing there is no video evidence, this doesn't preclude the possibility of evidence from other sources. For all we know a police officer, steward, match official or other neutral at the game may have provided corroborating evidence or perhaps Elding fessed-up (unlikely, I know). Without knowing that, we can't be sure that the decision is right or wrong. We do know that Elding's agent (licensed, we hope), after initially leaning towards an appeal, has had a change of heart. Is this based on knowledge that further evidence is available? Who knows?
And none of this excuses the lack of consistency in the FA's judgement a single-match ban for Suarez (caught on camera) but two matches for Elding. There should be a level of transparency to that decision at least, because again we don't know what that decision is based on, and so we have no way to deduce whether it is fair or not. Conduct, past transgressions, a level of culpability shown by the player these can all have an effect on the judgement. Or it could just be a complete travesty of justice. And whatever my views on the FA, I'm not quite ready to make an assumption.
Of course, if Elding did make this gesture then provocation or not he should have shown some restraint. There seem to be more of these sorts of incidents across football and while some level of abuse from the stands is to be expected, there should still be the expectation that professionals on the field act, well... professionally. There's an argument that fans dish out abuse so shouldn't take offence when it is returned by players. But if a barman called you a wanker because somebody else in the pub was swearing at him, you wouldn't be best pleased and may feel the need to make a complaint to the management/brewery.
None of this excuses the racist abuse allegedly directed at Elding during the match though but there are laws in place to deal with this already. And if that sort of abuse was used during the game and no action was taken against the Lincoln fan(s) using it, then that is a failure of stewarding and policing at Blundell Park. There's no space for that sort of language in modern football. Oh. Oh.
And so to Saturday then and along with Elding, Town will be without Miller, Hughes-Mason and Soares, who are all cup-tied. Add to this the injuries of Artus and Garner and the options are somewhat limited. This does at least give I'Anson a chance to cement a place back in the side, albeit as part of a somewhat inexperienced central defence. More difficulty perhaps lies in midfield, where the choices on the wings are simply Coulson and the almost-forgotten Makofo. The SNOS, however, seems to be suggesting that a loan player may be brought in. But with whose fackin' money?
Although with York supposedly thinking of switching from their favoured 4-3-3 formation for the match, maybe Town should hoodwink them by switching to 4-3-3 themselves. It worked so well early on in the season. Oh.
Thursday 23 February
Deviant Diary is having to spend the day in That London, leaving Middle-Aged Diary with strict instructions not to be nice about that refrigeration magnate.
Ah, but the difficulty when John Fenty features in today's Telegraph, undaunted and defiant, St George preparing to face the dragon, David to face Goliath, Boudicca against the Romans. The noble cause? Armed only with a computer printout from the Boston United website, on 15 March our ex-chairman will take to a Sheffield court as part of his continuing efforts to chisel the now part-time club out of the £25,000 they are claiming for losing the services of Rob Scott and Paul Hurst.
It is, of course, a coincidence that the upturn in the Mariners' fortunes on the pitch coincided with a rare period of silence on Fenty's part. But it is impossible not to feel that his silence contributed to the feelgood factor that winning run engendered. Whatever the wrongs and rights of the several issues involved (too many to be just bad luck), there is an inevitable air of shabbiness about his dealings with the local media, managerial appointments and disappointments, the Mariners Trust, and now Boston United, which leaves a stain on the name of the club.
And so to Anthony Elding, facing a two-match ban and a £600 fine after he responded to racial abuse from Lincoln supporters with an obscene gesture at the New Year's Day derby match. Allegedly. Elding and his agent are apparently considering an appeal.
Is it worth a reminder that football is a game not only watched but also played, refereed and administered by people, with feelings and fallibilities? Lines in the sand are needed, but also allowances for things said in the heat of the moment. So any fans racially abusing Elding should have been chucked out. But assuming Elding made the gesture, he was a bit silly, and an early apology and rehearsal of the extenuating circumstances would have been suitable. The handful of Lincoln fans who, having had time to reflect, made the complaint are clearly a petty-minded bunch, though not so much as the Town fans who complained about Darlington breaching a signings ban as the club struggles to survive. Similarly, Rob Scott blowing his top with a match official is almost understandable. But to then, in the cold light of day, bring the referee's gender into the equation is not.
And for a Town fan on Twitter to liken the Football Association's treatment of the club in these two affairs to "gang rape" leads me to wonder about my assertion that football is watched by people. Some are clearly subhuman.
Wednesday 22 February
Your West Yorkshire Diary was as irked as the next football fan when Huddersfield Town chairman Dean Hoyle decided to sack Lee Clark. But what astounded me more was the reaction of the Terriers fans. You see, I lived in the town for four years and I always had them down as an affable bunch with a sense of perspective, with their feet planted firmly on the ground. That was until I saw this status update from a Huddersfield fan on Facebook just hours after Clark was sacked:
Loves how the self righteous footballing world are suddenly experts on HTFC wind your necks in u haven't got a clue!
What disappointed me more was how his friends agreed in the comments that followed, which surmised that Lee Clark had been given millions to spend and hadn't got the club promoted oh, and they hadn't been playing well since Christmas. And at the start of this week they all kicked off again because their chairman appointed the unpopular Simon 'Larry' Grayson, whose association with rivals Leeds United runs deep. They'll accept promotion, they say but they won't be singing his name. How gracious of them.
On the face of it, Huddersfield sacked a manager who spent lots and failed to achieve the promotion they craved, and replaced him with someone whose CV includes two promotions from the very division they are in. Sod the record-breaking undefeated run. Sod the 49 per cent win ratio. Sod the development of Jordan Rhodes. Sod the two successive top six finishes. Clark didn't get Huddersfield promoted, and by their third defeat in 55 matches Hoyle and a section of the fans decided that enough was enough.
Huddersfield fans and their chairman are playing a dangerous game. They've lost perspective. They've become so fixated on getting promoted that they've failed to acknowledge that things could be much, much worse. The club has just dismissed a young manager with undoubted talent and traded him in for someone who was sacked by his last club for falling short of their own lofty ambitions. It's a bizarre gamble which I hope doesn't come off for them.
Money doesn't dictate that Huddersfield should be in the top two or top six. As we Town fans know only too well, at the start of the season we're not allowed to mention we had one of the division's biggest budgets and were tipped for promotion. Relegation to the Conference was unthinkable and practically impossible, but it happened.
But then, maybe this is the Grimsby disposition we automatically consider the worst-case scenario after being left disappointed on so many occasions. Even John Fenty (Topcon) doesn't budget with worst-case scenarios in mind and instead ploughs ahead with visions of 4,000 crowds for non-League football at £16 a pop and plans for cup runs and a promotion back to the Football League. Realism has escaped this sport but look at me, saying it like you don't already know.
It seems odd that we're allowing all this time in February to pass by without squeezing in a league game so that we can take the pressure off a hectic March. I don't recall a time when the Mariners have been required to play nine league games in one month before, but if you recall an occasion please do let us know. Thankfully, Shouty appreciates the pivotal nature of next month and he told the Grimmo Telegraph just that.
News elsewhere is a bit thin on the ground today but the ever reliable SNOS tells us that our management duo will finally receive their January Manager of the Month award from someone called Dave Boddy before the FA Trophy game against York on Saturday. Which one of them gets to keep it, do you reckon? Surely they don't share a cabinet. Perhaps they'll keep it on a rotational basis according to a detailed plan which exists as an Excel spreadsheet on someone's computer somewhere. Liam Hearn will also collect his Player of the Month award.
Meanwhile the SNOS is asking who should be the next Mariners legend to have his name on a brick outside the entrance to Blundell Park. How about someone whose fitness, dedication and professionalism was never called into question and who is still probably fit enough to play the full 90 minutes of all nine games next month and not expect a pat on the back for it?
Tuesday 21 February
The last time Grimsby Town put out an unchanged team for half a dozen or so games must have been August and September 2003. Paul Groves had made some impressive-looking signings over the summer in a bid to bounce straight back to second-flight football. And Laurens Ten Heuvel began the season in quietly impressive, non-goalscoring form, shortly before the side crashed 8-1 at Hartlepool, heralding a spectacular collapse in form and second consecutive relegation. taking GTFC to the bottom rung of the Football League for the first time in nearly 15 years.
If we forget about some current players being cup-tied for the FA Trophy, we've had another unchanged GTFC starting XI for, oooh, ages. Since Frankie Artus shimmied on at Lincoln over Christmas, the team has picked itself. It's a case of last in first out, though, as the knee injury Artus picked up in Town's win over Southport last Friday looks set to keep him out of action for a week or two. And your original/regular Diary knows what you're thinking. You're thinking, oooh, now we get to have a look at this Louis Soares, and you're all excited like when you've just signed a new player on Football Manager and expecting at least two goals and an assist on his debut.
Soares, though, is cup-tied for FA Trophy games. That nice Kiernan Hughes-Mason can't fill in down the left, either, because he's cup-tied for FA Trophy games too. By all means let them off the leash against Braintree a week on Saturday. But when York pop along for the Trophy quarter-final this weekend, well... anyone remember Serge Makofo?
Simon Shaw has emailed the Diary on the vexed issue of why, despite heavy springtime fixture congestion, the Conference season still ends earlier and starts later than the Football League's. "I thought (though I have no evidence) that this was because when the league was founded, as the teams were part-time, then starting late would give them more time to get a team together whilst also avoiding holidays and cricket commitments and the like. It, at the least, sounds plausible," suggests Simon.
"However," he adds, "at the opposite extreme, it seems that the Conference also has delusions of grandeur. My team (Lincoln City) agreed to rearrange their game with Hayes & Yeading United on 28 February but Conference officials have since declined this request, stating that they won't reschedule fixtures during an England C international week." This, from the league that allegedly chose the Premier Sports TV deal ahead of an offer from the BBC...
Monday 20 February
Miss Guest Diary writes: Another week, another win for Town: this is getting boring. No, actually, it's not it's bloody fantastic. I did not go to Friday's game but I've seen it variously described as scrappy, of low quality and one that Town never looked like winning, with Town's performance hailed as gritty in the face of difficult conditions. They don't award points for style in football and the most satisfying win is usually the one clawed from the jaws of defeat, so I'm happy.
Well, I was happy until I saw on Twitter that my current favourite player, Frankie Artus, took a knock and, in his own words, his knee is "quite swollen" and he might be "out for a bit". I hope he doesn't suffer the fate of Bradley Wood and find he can't get back in the side when he has recovered.
Reading Friday's Middle-Aged Diary, I was struck by the fact that the game at which he fell in love with Town was away to Southend on 20 April 1990, for that was my very first Town game. I can't claim to have experienced the same epiphany as my fellow diarist. In fact, I was distinctly underwhelmed. Because it was raining so persistently, I insisted that we go in the stand rather than on the open terrace behind the goal. Being a football innocent, I didn't yet possess that sixth sense which says something's going to happen. So, every time something did happen in that game, the fans around me jumped up and blocked my view and I missed every incident, including the two goals. And I still got wet because we had to wait in the car park afterwards to give a lift home to a mate who had stood behind the goal.
In off-the-pitch news, the SNOS has issued a statement in Fentyspeak about what is described as "the share issue". I read it and became confused, so asked someone who is well-versed in company and insolvency law to read it and tell me what it meant. His comment was: it's contradictory, inconsistent and illogical. Maybe Mr Fenty has been practising some doublethink in anticipation of resuming his position as Big Brother oops, I mean chairman of GTFC.
If you can offer a coherent interpretation, let us have it. But it's too late to make any difference to me as I've already cast my vote in the Mariners Trust ballot.
And now I'm going to have a whinge. A few weeks ago I spotted that Laura Marling is giving a concert in Nottingham on 13 March. I didn't hold out much hope of my partner agreeing to go with me: anyone who knows him is well aware that he has no interest in any music made in the last 20 years unless it has involved Roger Waters or Ray Davies. But, wonder of wonders, he said yes, so I bought the tickets. Now Town have gone and rearranged the postponed York game for the very same evening. D'oh!
Friday 17 February
For Middle-Aged Diary, it's easy to idealise the past. Take kick-off times. Variations from a 3:00 start on Saturday afternoons were idiosyncratic. Torquay played their football on a Saturday night. Aldershot consulted local timetables or shift patterns and duty rosters. Or, perhaps to accommodate the club chairman's post-prandial nap, they decided their games should kick off a quarter-hour after everyone else. These arrangements were maintained over seasons, catering to the local needs of those who wanted to be part of occasion, rather than merely to watch someone else's spectacle.
Tonight's game has been moved to suit the few who might be persuaded to pay to see the game on telly. It is another instance of the obstacles that make it harder for audiences to bond with a team. But those obstacles were there, twenty, thirty years ago. The internationally rich buying clubs as investments or as playthings may be new, but local businessmen their knowledge of football represented in the blank page of Len Shackleton's autobiography masking their insecurities by an attempt to cow and patronise those who make the club a living thing are as old as the game itself.
Among the idiosyncratic arrangements of the mediocre old days, Tranmere and Southend played their football on Fridays, and so gave me the happiest Friday night of my life: Roots Hall, 20 April 1990. Rain was pouring onto the open terrace where Southend gave space to the away support. The view from this low terrace was such that when Grimsby went a goal up at the far end, we had to ask each other who had scored. You'd have thought the beanpole figure of the only black player in the Town XI would have been distinctive enough. No mistaking his second, scored in front of us, Alexander shaping to meet a cross from the left on the volley, mistiming the flight but the ball striking his shin truly enough to thwack into the net. No mistaking his delight.
Watching from terraces tight to the action, we always shared the emotions of Alexander. Whether his despair at missing from five yards at Layer Road or now his delighted huge grin as he scored the goal that made promotion a virtual certainty. The rain the pouring, soaking rain, lit white like champagne added to the delirium. We bathed in success. The team had become an unstoppable force and players and supporters were there to share the joy.
Falling in love with a team happens by degrees, but you make a lifetime's commitment to them, for better for worse, on nights like that. A few months ago, it seemed the obstacles to a new generation of supporters falling in love with the Mariners were insuperable. Now it is not so hard to imagine some other middle-aged diarist boring his audience in 20 years' time with memories of Liam Hearn. Tonight, for someone, may be the night they realise that Grimsby Town are part of their life, to love and to cherish.
Thursday 16 February
Nothing ever happens on a Thursday: that's why the CA Man gave this dog day to Deviant Diary to sprinkle wacky whimsy over the yawning void. This Thursday is no day for whimsy.
Cod Almighty has been pleasant and supportive of the relaunched Superb New Mariners Trust (SNMT©). Here are some English words: spineless, witless, forelock-tugging mugs (don't be). You're being conned by an emotional blackmailer. You're not the first trust to be taken in by businessmen with dreams and threats, but you haven't learned from the mistakes of others. Or rather the trust's board hasn't.
The SNMT's aim is stated thus: "We seek only a means of providing Grimsby fans with more say over how the club is run". It was given 500,000 shares. Some of the SNMT's board want to give 200,000 of them to a rich man, in return for which they get a pat on the head and the chance to listen to him a few more times in a comfy chair. The board had already secretly given away voting rights to 200,000 of its shares to any chairman of any meeting: now there are members who want to give John Fenty 200,000 shares. Are these are the same shares? The SNMT's letter to members doesn't make this clear at all. If not, they are effectively proposing to hand the power of 80 per cent of their free bounty to one man in return for nothing tangible, just a vague promise revolving around the word 'involve'. Spin on that.
For an analysis of the mangled Fentyspeak, why not click on to our fine friend at Too Good To Go Down. It's a tale of inconsistent logic and megalomania.
Yes, Councillor John Fenty, fridge magnate, will not provide sufficient funds to keep the club going unless he is given more power. After a decade of dross and disaster, after all those pounds he claims to have provided, he is publicly stating he is prepared to let the club die. It's all about his ego. Those members of the SNMT's board who support the share giveaway have fallen for this cheap trick. Face the man down: don't be Fenty's poodle. What could he do? Terminate Grimsby Town Football Club? He'd be the man who killed our club. He wouldn't dare. He's invested too much money, emotion and, above all, reputation. He wouldn't want the serfs out with their verbal pitchforks at the gates of Xanadu on Humberston Avenue.
The football: the fact is that Elding is up before the FA beak for his supposed Lincoln thing. And long-term reader, 13th-time emailer Phil Watson (PI) searched deep inside and found his inner Tommy Widdrington. He points out that Shouty's ever-expanding touchline ban is officially the result of remarks made about the referee's gender. Henceforth, all officials must be called "it".
And there's a game tomorrow. It's all about the football, not the moneyball.
Wednesday 15 February
Hey now, Grimsby Town Football Club. You've made good progress recently, on and off the pitch. But as happy as we may be to have James McKeown in our team, we're uneasy about people calling him Macca. So we're even less happy about a dining room being called Macca. There's only one Sir John McDermott, and there's only one Macca. The latter appellation must never be appended to Blundell Park's prestigious banqueting facilities until that great day when McMenemy's is renamed McDermott's.
Your original/regular Diary is not entirely surprised to see another match appended to the Shouty manager's touchline ban. The louder of our co-bosses was, you'll remember, originally handed a two-match ban for generally being a stroppy sod despite his team leading against Bath City by a margin pushing double figures. Two has now become three following another FA hearing about Shouty's misogynistic post-match rant at referee Amy Fearn. But would you change Shouty if you could? Is his misogyny like the fire in Paul Ince's belly, so that he'd lose everything that makes him an effective manager if you made him start treating women like human beings?
There's a viewpoint, of course, that Shouty's rage was justified because Fearn's performance represented some kind of spectacular new low in refereeing ineptitude. True, she had a fairly poor day. But her performance was average for the league we're in: no worse than most of the refs who've rocked up at BP in the last two or three seasons, and significantly better than many. So that's a viewpoint, in the same way that creationism, trickle-down economics, and liking Tim Lovejoy are all viewpoints. I trust no further explanation is necessary.
I was a bit bemused earlier this week to see all that kerfuffle over the postponement of the York game last Saturday. Sure, Town will lose money because of it. Tens of thousands? Really? Well, Deadly John (Topcon) knows better than me. I'm just curious as to why the former chairman feels the need to make such a song and dance about one postponement, when last winter's 'snow chaos' (© 2010-12 Daily Express) meant the club went two and a half months last winter with only two league games at Blundell Park. And if we're talking about fixture congestion, we still need an explanation from someone as to why the Conference season has to end earlier and start later than the rest. Any light to shed on that one, Councillor?
Of course, fixture congestion wouldn't be an issue if the current Mariners team simply had the decency to be as shit as most of their recent predecessors and exit every knockout tournament at the earliest available opportunity. Our opponents for this month's FA Trophy quarter-final have now been confirmed as, oh, it's York City again. And here's an email from Matt Pakes, who watched Town in the last round. "In years to come," writes Matt, "when Grimsby are good again, I'll look back with pride. When someone moans about a scraped win over Bradford or Accrington or whomever, I will have a certain smug look about me as I know I was there, in minus 9 degrees, at night, on a Tuesday, against Bath City FC, with 82 brethren (and womenen) watching Town grind a 2-1 win in the FA Trophy third round. Happy days. UTM."
Lastly today, while we're rummaging the Diary's musty inbox, here's another email, from David Elvidge. "In yet another tidying-up exercise I came across a 'commemorative cover' (ie. illustrated envelope) featuring Town's former crest and a postmark: 'Grimsby Town FC 80th Anniversary of Election to Football League 1892-1972, 22 Jan 72 Cleethorpes, Lincs'. So last month was the 120th anniversary. I wonder if any other Mariners anoraks have this historical item? In this quiet period of frozen inactivity perhaps Diary readers could come up with some other events in Town's glorious history worthy of commemorating."
Over to you, then, readers. What's missing from Cod Almighty's Brief History of Town? Email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll look at them next week. If you come up with anything really good we might even add it to the Brief History page. Cheers!
Tuesday 14 February
Good afternoon Meggies, Grimbarians and others of North East Lincolnshire and/or south Humberside extraction it's you West Yorkshire Diary here today, filling in at late notice for your original/regular Diary on this special no-news Tuesday. Houston, we have a problem.
It seems a shame that tonight will pass with no football played by the Mariners, since March is quickly becoming a fixture marathon. Our scheduled away game at Hayes & Yeading, at Woking, on 25 February, has been moved to Tuesday 20 March, making it an eight-game month. The York game also needs to be moved but the SNOS reckons that will have to be April because there's simply no more room at the March inn. There will be no more no-news Tuesdays next month either, that's for sure.
Right now, as it stands, our forthcoming Friday night game at Southport (televised, for 0.001 per cent of Britain's viewing pleasure) is our only February league fixture. Quite why the Conference kicks off its season later than the Football League and finishes sooner is anyone's guess. Anyway, you can watch the match on one of the McMenemy's flat-screen telly-ma-bobs while eating a large haddock, chips and peas. But hurry tickets for the night are being snapped up fast, as you'd expect for such a world-class venue. I'll be watching it round my mate's house in Bradford, who only subscribes to the channel for the Australian rugby league matches. The non-League football is incidental.
There's not a lot else to report today other than a nice Grimmo Telegraph interview with Town starlet Andi Thanoj, who says he's happy to be playing in the first team, isn't happy that he hasn't scored for a while and would one day like to represent his native Albania. We hope you do, Andi.
Monday 13 February
Miss Guest Diary writes: Another weekend without a Town match. A few months ago this was something to look forward to, but now I feel cheated. I've fallen back in love with being a Town fan and it feels like I've been stood up.
What to do instead? Usually after a home game we grab some fish and chips in Cleethorpes or get a Chinese takeaway when we get back home to Lincoln. So we took the opportunity at the weekend to cook something a bit special for dinner. In honour of Ryan Bennett's transfer to Norwich, we delved into Delia's Complete Cookery Course for an old favourite: sausages braised in red wine. Mmm, really tasty. In the hope that some readers might want to try it for themselves, I looked for the recipe online and found this version which, like so many other things in the modern world, has been given an exotic twist. But, by swapping the venison sausages for good old Lincolnshire ones and leaving out the juniper berries and redcurrant jelly, you can easily recreate the original.
For entertainment I settled on going to see the new Muppets film. My partner took some persuading but succumbed when I reminded him that the music was written by Brett McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords. The film was a bit too long and a bit too sentimental, and the endless rustle of sweet wrappers by the audience was a bit irritating, but that seems par for the course with most cinema-going these days.
In a search for Town-related news, I came across a short piece on the SNOS, advising that tickets for Saturday's postponed match against York may either be retained for use when it is eventually rearranged or can be swapped for tickets to the FA Trophy match on 26 February. Now that's very sensible.
The SNOS also carries a thankyou from John Fenty to the 40 or so Town fans who turned up at Blundell Park at 7am on Saturday with their shovels to help clear snow from the pitch. This is what Samuel Johnson once called "a triumph of hope over experience", though he was referring to second marriages, not aborted football fixtures.
Meanwhile, in a rather nice interview with the Grimsby Telegraph, Anthony Elding talks about how "it all being foreign" in Hungary caused his return to English football and how much he appreciates being appreciated by Town fans.
Shouty has talked to the Telegraph about the effect on Town of losing six points if Kettering go out of business but accepts that "it's not worth worrying about" till it happens. Kettering are trying hard to survive and their supporters' trust has arranged a fundraising friendly against Peterborough this Wednesday evening. So, if you're down that way, why not pop along to Nene Park. You can help preserve those six points for Town and may also get the chance to say farewell to Ryan Bennett before he heads off for the bright lights of the Premiership.
Friday 10 February
Mardy Diary writes: So it seems on my return to diary duty that my primary function is to report on the weather (and the whether). Looking out of my window now it all looks fine, and there was only a smattering of snow left when I went to work so it's all OK, I'm sure. Yeah, I live 80 miles away from Blundell Park, but the weather can't be that different over there. It's at sea level and I'm up in the hills and what...? Oh. Seems like it's shovels at the ready then, but the club seems optimistic that the game will be on. Not even a mention of a pitch inspection anywhere, so I guess we'll have to wait until the morning to find out what's happening.
Team news then, and we continue to inhabit that strange world where we have almost a full squad to pick from (see our match preview for more details). It's funny how the injuries disappear when a team is on a good run isn't it? Is it players playing through the pain and not wanting to lose their position, or more that when a team is performing badly no-one wants to turn up either physically or mentally?
Either way, those days are long gone for us. Long gone. Yes, this is New Grimsby. We win stuff. We get in tussles at the right end of the table. Sometimes we play a bit of footy (that second goal against Bath was a bit lovely, wasn't it?). Who is this failing Grimsby you talk of? Not round here, mate. Fickle? Me?
Of course, these good runs do attract the fickle, and Town are hoping to attract a few more with the Target 5,000 campaign. And while it's great to see the crowds returning to Blundell Park, I always get a bit apprehensive when the fickle hordes come wandering back (especially if accompanied with a cheap ticket deal). Why? Well, think about it. These are the fans who were first to wander off when things went wrong, who haven't been there to see the changes over the last few months, who won't know that while the run has been great and we've dug in for the results, we've also had a fair bit of luck go our way and the games have been a bit patchy at times.
We still have games where we play rubbish one half and amazing the next, but this time we're able to kill teams off when we get the upper hand. I worry that those who were the first to leave when times were bad will be the first to turn on the team if we start badly on Saturday. The big difference at Blundell Park of late (for me, anyway) is the change in the attitude of the fans from hostile, to despair, to indifference, to encouraged, to buoyant, to ecstatic. It's a gradual change, that and if you haven't travelled that path you may still be at the hostile stage.
But if that's all I'm worried about (yeah, OK, I'm still a bit worried that York might actually be any good and give us a good beating) then things must be pretty good, eh? So although I couldn't be there with a spade clearing the snow today, I have been sat here fingers crossed for the game to go ahead tomorrow. And I remember this feeling, a distant memory, of actually looking forward to a game. Must have been about ten years ago.
Anyway, England. Lolz! Seeya.
Thursday 9 February
In the shimmering ivory towers of Cod Almighty there's no income tax, no VAT. No money back, that's guaranteed. Come join me, that is I, the Diary of Deviance, standing on the grassy knoll of association football and tutting from the hip. I think I saw someone do that on Opportunity Knocks once.
So down in the enchanted, emerald city Dumb Fabio sleeps with his goldfishes because he can't keep his regimental goat in the garden and, in one bound, the self-styled Chauncey Gardiner of football is free. Awwwwwight! Happy Harry, the jovial jowl-wobbler of old London Town, struck it lucky with a cock-er-nee version of a Ken Dodd jury. At a push he could get you some Trevor Francis tracksuits from a mush in Shepherds Bush, no questions, nudge, nudge, say no more. Who among us hasn't forgotten they put £10 in a secret Skegness building society account in the name of their favourite dog? Lovely jubbly! Tax? That's what the little people pay.
And aren't we snow-sodden, soot-stained northern folk so very poor and 'umble.
Ah, so very poor indeed. Taking up the reins of rubbishness recently tossed aside by the SNOS, BBC Look North burbled excitedly last night about Town's epic journey to the quarter-finals of the "FA Johnstone's Paint Trophy", showcasing a squeaky goal by a black and white striped warrior. Marvellous. Local talent for local people.
There's snow and ice around and the Conference paupers are fretting, for they have no more chairs to burn. With Kettering teetering and Darlington having their weekly Armageddon fright-a-thon, every second counts or it's wipeout. Poor old Darlo have no home game until March: no income, just pity.
And what have we learned from Town's Twerton Tuesday? Duffy has cravings and Shouty's touchline ban has made no difference. The Humber Foghorn can be heard for miles and miles and miles and miles.
I've run out of hot chocolate. I've run out of news. I'm running out of here.
Wednesday 8 February
"So then, could this be another double Wembley promotion season for Grimsby?" pondered one of your West Yorkshire Diary's work colleagues as he stirred the tiniest drop of milk into his early morning cup of tea. He's the work colleague who's employed to wander around the office and chat to everyone at inconvenient times, but whose job title suggests he should really be doing some proper work. "I dunno," I replied. I like to not think about these things. If I don't think about it, nothing bad will happen. "Whatever will be, will be," I added, which only made me think of Wembley.
I was surprised that my tea-drinking friend even knew about last night's 2-1 win at one-time bogey side Bath City, since the competition is not regarded as important enough to appear on various vidiprinters or sunny sports sites. He must have specifically searched for the result online before I arrived in the office.
Once upon a time, in an era not far away, going a goal down (especially away from home) used to result in certain defeat. Now, even without His Shoutyness in a Baltic Bath on a Tuesday night in front of 546 hardy souls, the Mariners showed they could fight back from a setback. A big well done to the 82 Town fans who made the Twerton trip last night, by the way. That's top support right there a fantastic example for any youngsters watching at home.
Despite an iffy first half, the lonesome short one (who looks a bit like Sir John McDermott in this article's picture) explained that he was happy with the win. Everything went to plan. Elding avoided falling into the Ciaran Toner bracket by scoring in the match after he signed a new contract. And Shorty's decision to replace the club's top scorer with a striker who's been criticised by some supporters for not scoring enough goals while sat on the substitutes' bench turned out to be a very wise one indeed.
So then, that's one defeat in the last 21, undefeated in 10 nine of those being victories. Which is great, and all that, but it would be so much more impressive if these statistics didn't have to work around that sodding Salisbury defeat in December.
On a side note, Cod Almighty would like to congratulate Michael Coulson on his 100th appearance for the club last night. It's become an even more significant milestone for lower league sides given the state the sport is in. Not many players stay at clubs for more than a year or two, so racking up a ton of games in just one shirt is a decent effort indeed. Is he our current longest-serving player or does that accolade go to Bradley Wood(s)? Will Bradderz be the next to reach the Town century? I'm not sure who else comes close. But it does seem that we've formed a squad that may not have to break up in the summer whether we go up or not (unless Deadly John (Topcon) decides to intervene, of course).
Last up today, a lot of fans have been very factual about Anthony Elding on Twitter since those festive Lincoln games and no matter how contentious some of the claims have been, I've been willing to believe each and every one of them based on nothing more than trust in my fellow fans. However, I think I may have stumbled upon the first false fact about our 6'1" striker he's not 5'5" as Soccerbase claims. Toodles!
Tuesday 7 February
It seems to your original/regular Diary that there's not a great deal that can reliably be learned from the Daily Express. Except by reading between the lines and discovering, for example, that the Daily Express is full of shit. It remains to be seen whether the various Snowmageddon scenarios joyfully prophesied by the Express will come to pass later this week. But tonight's meeting between Bath City and Grimsby Town in the FA Trophy, for what it's worth, has certainly beaten the weather, even if the rest of global civilisation collapses around it.
(For more on tonight's encounter, the Cod Almighty match preview is back. Get a load of facts, form, and everything else here.)
One place the determined doom-mongering of the Express won't be striking a chord just now is Grimsby. And there's a sentence I never thought I'd write. With the Mariners' unbeaten run continuing over the weekend thanks to a wintry postponement, there's no end to the optimism around Blundell Park way just now. So much so, in fact, that the football club seems to have launched a 'Lets [sic.] Pack The Park' campaign to try and get 5,000 supporters in for the remaining home games this season as Shorty and Shouty's men push on for the play-off places. I say "seems to have launched" because I can't see a link to that campaign page anywhere prominent on the club's superb new official website. So it's more sort of slipped out than been launched. But even your original/regular Diary is prepared to contribute to the present air of insane positivity, so I won't labour the point, or go on about the missing apostrophe clanger on the campaign poster, or anything like that.
Much has happened in Anthony Elding's short Grimsby Town career thus far. He was singled out for abuse by a section of the club's 'support' almost before he stepped onto the pitch. He missed a few sitters. He scored a few goals. He pumped his fists and roared at the Pontoon when Town beat Lincoln, instantly transforming into him a cult hero and internet meme. Sensing the moment of a lifetime, Elding's agent placed some stories in the press about Swindon being interested, tapped Shorty on the shoulder, held up a smartphone following the #eldingfacts hashtag, and gently cleared his or her throat.
Today we've learned that the desired effect has been achieved. The player has signed the new contract he was offered, keeping him at Blundell Park to the end of next season. By the end of this year we now expect Elding to have captained the Mariners to FA Trophy and play-off glory, won the next series of I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here and achieved the 2012 Christmas number one. Town fans with a sensible view of squad development and player contracts are now planning to get #iansonfacts and #thanojfacts trending globally by four o'clock this afternoon.
It would have been nice, though, if the club had given the even the vaguest indication through the SNOS or any other channel, that it was running a sport and social history project called Trawlers and Footballers. This information has come to light only because researchers have found evidence that the first women's football team in England may have emerged in Grimsby. The news was reported by the BBC recently and is repeated by the Grimsby Telegraph today. It's just a shame that the football club is so backward about coming forward sometimes, when there's such genuinely fascinating-sounding stuff as this that they could be telling us about.
Diary reader Matt Pakes is another, though, who's noticed that the recent upturn in form by the Town team has been matched by the club's communications. Last week, you might recall, the club's website was quick to respond to a question from Cod Almighty about the Parents Partnership Action Group. Matt says: Fair play to the SNOS, they've been pretty damn responsive with stuff recently! That PPAG thing, Cod Almighty asked the question, didn't get a response straight away but instead got a proper(ish) press release on the site. Genuinely slightly impressive!"
In reference to CA's tenth anniversary, Matt adds: "PS: Thanks for the last 10 years of uni/work distraction! It's been a joy." Thank you, Matt. We'll be doing a few things to mark the occasion later this year, so keep your eyes open for that.
Back to the week ahead, though, before we go, and it seems that the 'adverse' weather has had one happy consequence from a GTFC-centric perspective. The York Press is today reporting the postponement of their own FA Trophy game tonight and a reserve game yesterday. The Minstermen's top scorer Jason Walker whose skill did for Town back at Bootham Crescent in October was looking to the midweek programme as a chance to build up some fitness after missing eight games injured. And York midfielder Scott Brown won't now complete his three-match suspension tonight. Brown will be ineligible when City visit BP in a massive six-pointer this Saturday. And Walker, speculates the Press, "is unlikely to be risked from the start". Hey, I've been clutching at straws for ten years; it'll take more than three months to stop.
Monday 6 February
Miss Guest Diary writes: The postponement of Town's FA Trophy game at the weekend didn't have much effect on me as I hadn't been planning to travel to Bath anyway. For Craig Disley it meant he got to spend the weekend with his family and also had an extra three days to recover from a poorly ankle. For Liam Hearn it meant the temporary loss of an opportunity to set an all-time GTFC record of scoring a hat-trick in five different games in one season.
Weather permitting, the game will now be played tomorrow, 7 February, with any replay next Tuesday. According to the SNOS, Bath are confident that the match will go ahead.
When the rerearranged Tamworth game will be played is anybody's guess. Shorty has told the Grimsby Telegraph that he can't see why it can't be played on the original rearranged date of 28 February. This would mean clashing with the England C game against Italy but, as both Town and Tamworth only have one player each in the England squad, "it would make sense to get the game played that week". If Shorty can contemplate a game without Michael Coulson, in my opinion the most talented footballer at the club, it shows the strength of the squad.
Having a strong squad is supposed to mean players try extra hard to keep their place in the team. But it also means that good players are left on the bench which, from the recent Telegraph interview with Rob Eagle, we know is frustrating for them. Look at poor Bradley Wood he got suspended for a couple of games and now can't get his position back from Gary Silk. It must be a bit like going on holiday for a couple of weeks and coming back into the office to find someone else at your desk doing your job while you have to sit in the corner doing a bit of filing.
Frankie Artus has been fortunate enough to get his chance in the team because of an injury to Serge Makofo but now he has Louie Soares breathing down his neck. Frankie says all the right things about strengthening the squad and competition for places being good, but it must put pressure on his recently improving form. Adding to the pressure, because his family live in the south-west, his dad will be at the Bath game. He's no Wayne Burnett, but I'd like to see him keep his place in the team. So, good luck Frankie.
Despite all eight of the weekend's FA Trophy games being postponed, the draw for the fourth round has taken place. If Town beat Bath, they will face either York or Ebbsfleet at Blundell Park on Saturday 25 February. Ho hum.
Friday 3 February
Mardy Diary writes: So whose turn is it to Tell The Telegraph this week then? What? What do you mean 'we're good now'? I don't understand what am I supposed to write here now? Right, so now it's a case of Tell The Telegraph We've Been Very Good Lately, And We'll Keep Being Good, Honest. Gotcha.
So it's all looking alright here then, isn't it? What with manager/player of the month awards, unbeaten runs, signing players with a track record in this league and all that. Then there's Fenty rightly getting praise for his pioneering 'sell-on clause' approach to flogging players. Yes, in the past you just sold a player for some money, but John had this novel idea to request a percentage of any future sale, ensuring that the club got a wodge from the sale of Bennett. So, praise where praise is due: well done, John. I bet Peterborough didn't see that one coming, or perhaps even offer the deal themselves.
And of course this means that we've finally got our hands on the Drinkell money that Norwich owed us. I mean, if they'd just left it at the £90k that would be insulting wouldn't it? No, so another well done this time to Norwich for finally giving us what was owed.
In team news then wait, hang on. There's a pitch inspection in a bit so let me just twiddle my thumbs a while and perhaps save myself the bother of writing some team news.
And the match is............... OFF! Well, that's saved me a job. Instead I'll share with you a letter I recently wrote to those hair-brained, namby-pamby liberals at the Football Conference HQ. This'll put a red-hot poker up their arse, no mistaking!
I say 'Sirs' hoping to God that, even though we've allowed women (God I hate them so much) to referee matches and play 'international' 'football' on a 'football' 'pitch', we haven't allowed their pretty-faced brains to infiltrate the upper echelons of football administration. Although given recent events I wouldn't be surprised if that was in fact the case!!!
No, I write to ask: How is it that a team that spends money on players it can't afford is allowed to prosper in this league when it is clear it offers them an unfair advantage over others? Why should everyone else have to suffer because its one-time chairman chose to place it into a perilous financial position by wasting money on a stadium pipe dream? And why is it allowed to remain here signing players and loaning players from highly placed local teams in the Football League, thus making a mockery of this fine game?
It is time to get tough on such teams and make an example of them. I implore you to take swift and decisive action and kick Grimsby Town Football Club out of this league once and for all.
Major Percival Tightsphincter (Mrs)
p.s. This sort of financial misdemeanour wouldn't be allowed in the Premier League!
Finally, well done to Michael Coulson for nudging his way in to the England C squad for the match against Italy at the end of the month. Nice to see some recognition for some of our players, although personally I'd prefer us to keep quiet about the ones out of contract in the summer. Shhhh.
See you then.
Thursday 2 February
Thursday wouldn't be Thursday without a daily dose of Darlo. Today your previously devious Deviant Diary shall mostly be eating chocolate chip cookies; and today's black and white hooped knights have a vague notion of local clubs for local people. Check out
the hair on the left, which has definitely been drinking in the last chance saloon (home supporters only by order of the local police). The locals are dipping in to their community chest, though they haven't enough money to build little green houses on their single property. They haven't passed 'Go' yet.
Monochrome moments abound: eliminate the horizontal, accentuate the vertical. What of this Town they call Grimsby?
Let us turn as effortlessly as Roberto Duffia to the SNOS, officially the snossiest SNOS in footballdom. All eyes and ears peer at The Fentycon's emergence from exile. How did we manage without his weekly witterings? In some distressing sad-dad casual clothing, the power behind the drone intoned on and on about this and that. He's delighted by the unexpected Bryan Bennett windfall, but didn't reveal whether Town secured similar deals for Hank B Marvin and Bruce Welch, which is where the big money is in the Shadows squad.
Ah, yeah, Ryan Bennett, the universally liked old young boy, not the legendary drummer from the popular beat combo. Barrowboy Barry successfully persuaded Town to forego the right to get all the secret dosh immediately, so most of the jam comes tomorrow, if tomorrow ever comes. The orange-obsessed refrigeration magnet also revealed that Town couldn't consummate a second signing after the Louie Louie coup. There were another five minutes of Dale delvings, something about Fentycon and Shouty being two peas in a pod, if not birds of a feather. Ahh, the Gilbert and George of Grimsby.
The Shouty one shall be sat among the dentists for two games after his not-sexist-at-all rantathon. That'll give him time to work on his anger management issues before Blundell Park hosts
TWO, that's TWO, girls' games in April. Or as the SNOS propaganda puts it: Town will be the venue for two UEFA-recognised international football matches. We're not saying it's wrong or nuffink but it just ain't natural, Town hosting international football fixtures.
One more thing: if you are thinking of Tweeting from Twerton you'd better beware. It's officially a bit cold so the game has as many doubts as Tom Newey under a high ball. Don't leave home without checking the SNOS, a woolly hat or a second pair of socks. And don't forget to tell your mum where you are going.
This message shall self-destruct in 10 years.
Wednesday 1 February
What was the first thing you did when you woke up this morning? If you're superstitious like your West Yorkshire Diary's mum then you may have uttered the words 'white rabbits'. But if you're a Grimsby Town fan you probably went to double-check that Liam Hearn was still at the club which he is. Chelsea didn't come in for him after all, the buggers. The second thing you probably did was check whether Ryan Bennett fetched a fine fee as he flew to our feathery friends at Norwich minutes before this metaphorical window slammed shut which he did. I wonder if the window has stained glass?
And so the Mariners can begin the rest of the season with the Conference's joint top scorer still in their ranks and with the promise of some money from the sale of Captain Bennett who, if you recall, was played in midfield in the latter days of Mike Newell's tenure. That's how great a manager he was. Somehow, unlike Shorty and Shouty, Newell never scraped a manager of the month award (although, like Liam Hearn, Luton's Michael Reddy got the player of the month thing once).
Bennett's move to Norfolk has scuppered my plans to use today's diary to talk about how we haven't got any fackin' money and yet we continue buying players. This despite Deadly John (Topcon) telling us repeatedly that we're in debt, we're not breaking even and he's not prepared to keep putting in more of his own money. We're handing out 18-month contracts like they're sweets.
Perhaps there was some room to accommodate two new players following the release of Darran Kempson and Rob Eagle (now with Alfreton and Lowestoft respectively), but players don't just agree to tear up their contracts and go for free. Having said all that, recent acquisitions Ian Miller and Louis Soares appear to be direct replacements for Neil Woodseses' summer 2010 recruits. Eagle, you may remember, didn't play too badly in his full season for Town and a goal ratio of one in four wasn't half bad for a winger. However, in a candid interview with the Grimmo Telegraph he reveals that he didn't help himself with his off-field behaviour (brought about by not being in the team, of course). Perhaps his face didn't fit after all. Maybe his various haircuts were a subtle plea for attention.
Yesterday Town played in one of those hastily arranged behind-closed-doors friendlies up the A180 against Plucky Scunny's reserves to give the stiffs some game time. In the briefest of reports, the superb new official website announced that we lost 2-1 and Serge Makofo scored the goal. It's not worth a link but the ever reliable Telegraph managed to pad out a story from Shorty's post-match comments. I've said it before and I'll say it again: poor old Serge. There's not a lot more he can do to get back in the match day squad of 16, let alone the starting XI. He must be wondering if he'll ever be favoured on that left wing after he's seen Jamie Green, Luke McCarthy and more recently Frankie Artus chosen ahead of him. And now, with Soares joining the club, even a goal for the reserves probably won't have much of an effect on his first-team chances.
John-Paul Marna the player suggested by some Town fans as the one we meant to buy from Kettering when we got Serge in a case of mistaken identity is likely to start against the Mariners for his new club Tamworth next Tuesday. Marna, you may remember, was sent off for fighting with a team-mate over who should take a penalty when they lost 5-3 at home to Hayes & Yeading (a game in which new recruit Soares scored a couple of goals).
While on the subject of Tamworth, Town fan James Booth has emailed us to say he's confused about the date of the fixture against the Lambs. This was originally planned for this Saturday but was moved because of our progress in the FA Tinpot Trophy. James says that the Sunday before last the official website declared the game had been moved to Tuesday 28 February, but the official website's fixture page has it down as Tuesday 7 February as do Tamworth's website and the newly designed BBC Sport website (which appears to have been attacked by a yellow highlighter pen). We're guessing it's next Tuesday, then but we're not sure when that became official. Thanks for noticing and emailing in, James.
Yesterday your original/regular Diary asked GTFC what the Parents' Partnership Action Group (PPAG) was all about. Today, like magic (or an incredibly well oiled and efficient communications channel), an article entitled 'What Is The PPAG?' has appeared on the official website to explain all. Credit where credit is due we asked a question (along with several others, it seems) and the club has answered. Bravo! It's left a lot of us at CA's ivory towers scratching our heads and wondering just what has got into the communications team at BP recently. They've suddenly got good, like the first team wonder if there's any connection? Perhaps the first team are doing the PR work too. Ciao!