More news that never happened
About this series
We have seen the future
3 January 2010
Desperate to know how the rest of Town's season will unfold? No, neither are we. But when a mysterious eastern woman appeared to the Cod Almighty team in the Rutland Arms last Saturday, supplementing her offer of dodgy DVDs with a glimpse into her crystal ball, we couldn't resist a peek. As the mists cleared and the future unfolded before our eyes, this is what we saw...
Town begin the search for their 14th manager since 2000 as Neil Woods is sacked following a 3-0 home defeat by relegation rivals Cheltenham. After becoming the only GTFC manager in history never to have achieved a single win during his spell in charge, Woods returns to his former position in charge of the youth team. Fenty explains: "People accuse the board of a lack of foresight but I kept the job of youth team manager vacant for precisely this eventuality."
Caretaker manager Chris Casper immediately dips into the loan market, alarmed by the gap opening up between Town and Lincoln, whose form has soared since they signed four new players from Fulham in December. Calling in a favour at Old Trafford, where he began his playing career, Casper signs the entire Manchester United reserve team on loan for the rest of the season. "Desperate times call for desperate measures," he says, "and I've never seen anything more desperate than the shower of shit Mike Newell brought here."
ConocoPhillips' sponsorship of Town's new stadium comes to an end, with no starting date yet announced for building work on the project. Club officials move quickly to offer naming rights to potential new sponsors, describing the package as "an ultra-modern and unique opportunity". A press officer explains: "You can sponsor a stadium at any number of clubs, but at Grimsby Town you're not sponsoring a stadium – you're sponsoring the idea of a stadium."
John Fenty's catchphrase is used in a Radio Humberside interview by Scunthorpe manager Nigel Adkins, who declares his intent, during the transfer window, to "bring more quality into the building".
Dean Windass, Steve Evans, Nick Griffin, Robert Mugabe and Russell Slade are interviewed for the post of manager. Sir Alex Ferguson also has a shock application considered for the job but, strangely, is not interviewed for it. "I met his brother-in-law at a Rotary Club function in 2002," says John Fenty, "so we don't need to interview Sir Alex at this stage because we know him sufficiently well." Fenty emphasises the importance of this appointment and pledges stability at the club. Slade's detractors among the Town support vow never to return to Blundell Park if he is given the job, muttering darkly about long-ball hoofing.
All six candidates are beaten to the punch, however, by Alan Buckley, who returns for an unprecedented yet strangely inevitable fourth term in charge. "They say you should never go back," admits Buckley, "and they're probably right." Buckley terminates the loans of the Manchester United reserves, replacing them with a right winger-cum-forward from the youth academy at Stockport. "They wouldn't have signed in the first place if I'd been here, so they might as well go home now," explains the manager, taking Mariners Player interviewer Dale Ladson by surprise by switching suddenly to a much more aggressive tone of voice.
Despite the absence of Barry Conlon, who is detained by police after a motorcycle was clocked at 180mph on the A46 outside Caistor, a comfortable 2-0 win over Macclesfield lifts Town to within a point of Lincoln in 22nd place. Buckley's detractors among the Town support vow never to return to Blundell Park, muttering darkly about pretty tippy-tappy football.
The chief executive of the NatWest bank reveals the company's plans to replace its entire board of directors and senior management, detailing a need for "fresh blood in the building".
GTFC announce that, as of next season, Saturday football at Blundell Park will be a thing of the past, with all 23 of Town's home games taking place on Friday nights. Asked by Radio Humberside to give reasons for the club's extraordinary decision, a Blundell Park press officer responds: "Dunno."
Town are in the market for a manager again after red-faced club officials realise they've appointed Alan Buckley's son Adam by mistake. "It was quite dark in the office that afternoon," explains a GTFC spokesperson, "and nobody knows whose job it is to change the light bulbs." Buckley jnr's replacement is youth team coach Adam Smith. John Fenty emphasises the importance of this appointment and pledges stability at the club. As a Town team boosted by eight new loan signings crashes 5-2 at home to Bournemouth, Barry Conlon is absent from the squad, assisting Interpol with their investigations into the affairs of a wealthy exporter of merchandise from Colombia.
The Grimsby Telegraph teams up with GTFC in an appeal for local people to turn out in their thousands at Town's final few home games of the season and cheer them on to Football League survival. "We're still trying to think of a name for this desperate last-ditch rallying cry campaign," admits Telegraph editor Michelle Lalor, "because, to be honest, we've kind of used up all the possible names for desperate last-ditch rallying cry campaigns already in the past ten years."
Fans are bemused by a club statement on Town's official website which discusses "our relationship" and "the beautiful times we've had together", ending with the offer of a romantic holiday "anywhere you like, darling – just name the place". It later emerges that the statement is John Fenty's response to his girlfriend after she started communicating with him through the OS messageboard. "He sits up until 3am every night reading it, so it seemed like the only way to get through to him," she explains.
Questioned about parliamentary reform on Radio 4's Today programme, prime minister Gordon Brown promises to "bring more integrity into the building".
As Town's poor form continues, Smith is sacked as manager and replaced by football in the community officer Graham Rodger. John Fenty emphasises the importance of this appointment and pledges stability at the club. Hope Powell is linked with the GTFC hotseat for a second time but tells the media: "As I've said before, I'd definitely be interested in managing a men's team one day. Just not this one."
Rodger oversees an immediate upturn in form, with wins over Accrington, Hereford, Chesterfield, Torquay and Darlington lifting the Mariners five points clear of the relegation zone, where Lincoln replace them in 23rd place. After missing training for 12 days and answering no calls, Barry Conlon is discovered in a state of confusion under a hedge alongside the Laceby by-pass. The charismatic Irish frontman has no memory of his whereabouts and suggests abduction by aliens.
Blundell Park goes into mourning after the shock discovery that Peter Furneaux expired in 2005. Asked by reporters how the club failed to notice that a director and former chairman had shuffled off this mortal coil five years ago, a GTFC communications officer said: "Well, it does tend to be quiet at board meetings. Especially when John asks if any of the directors want to buy new shares. Um... hang on a minute – I'd better just go and make sure the rest of them are alright."
The phrase 'in the building' is now common parlance and heard everywhere in the media on a daily basis. As a result John Fenty is making regular appearances on TV and radio as a commentator on business affairs.
Furious Town fans accuse Radio Humberside of bias after the station declines to offer commentary on the Mariners' six-pointer at Darlington, instead broadcasting live coverage from Hull Royal Infirmary as surgeons operate on Jimmy Bullard's knee.
Despite Town's upturn in form, Rodger is sacked as manager and replaced by Nicky Law. John Fenty emphasises the importance of this appointment and pledges stability at the club. With one win needed from the last two games to secure survival in the Football League, Law signs fourteen new players only for his team to lose 3-0 at home to Barnet, while Lincoln's surprise victory at Aldershot means the relegation issue will go right to the wire. Fenty explains that Law was appointed for "his experience, his contacts in the game, and his willingness to work for 200 quid a week".
Town arrange a fleet of coaches offering free transport for 1,200 supporters to the relegation decider on the final day of the season. All of them miss the match after the coach drivers print off directions to Burton from the Mariners' official website, which turn out instead to guide them to Torquay. Despite their lack of support in the stands, Town are leading at half time through a Barry Conlon penalty, with a flurry of red cards reducing the home side to eight men. As the second half begins, a group of agents are seen leaving the GTFC dressing room, and Burton win 4-1.
Lincoln's comfortable win over Macclesfield lifts them back above the Mariners, who finish 23rd. Just as supporters prepare for life in the Conference, though, Town receive an incredible last-ditch reprieve as Hull City's debts result in the north bank club being liquidated. Citing the precedent of Milton Keynes being handed Wimbledon's place in the Football League, celebrity business guru John Fenty successfully argues to an FA committee that the only way for Town to avoid Hull's fate is to be awarded their franchise, and the Mariners will kick off the 2010–11 season in the Premier League.
Having saved the club, Fenty steps down as chairman to take up a role presenting a new primetime, entrepreneur-themed reality TV show entitled Apprentice Dragons In The Building. His final act at Blundell Park is to sack Nicky Law and replace him with José Mourinho, who is a free agent after sensationally walking out on Internazionale last week. The new manager wins over supporters by declaring that "you need a Special One to manage a special club, and Grimsby is a special club". Promising "a fresh start, a new beginning, a bright new dawn", Mourinho hands new one-year contracts to Danny Boshell and Jamie Clarke.