Andrew Abbott's Blog

Monday, 18 February 2019

The agony and the er yes agony. That’s about it at the moment.

On Saturday, for the first time I saw the championship start to slip from our grasp. Everyone is starting to falter, everyone except Bury that is, City let go a two goal advantage back back back we go, yes, they score, back still further and Stevenage are level. That’s not championship form. That’s not promotion form if we’re honest yet, even now Lady Luck shines upon us. Two winnable games and if they’re won we’re right back in it. Two more draws and it’s the bridesmaids dress. There are worse fates but we could have been stood at the altar.

City were out of sorts. Is it just me or is our passing non existent at the moment? City, the late winner team, the never say die outfit that win games at the death. We’ve lost it. The previously reliable Eardley slightly out of sorts, Freck? Off you go. Bolger, not at the races. Even our trump card, the crowd. We seem to inspire the opposition not deplete them.

Yet. City are top. Bury keep winning but City pick up points, we’re not done yet. Some supporters see failure beckon but that’s not what we’re about surely. We’re Lincoln City, we’re top of the league we have to keep going. We have to.

Of course the reality of these last few stalemate weeks is although they didn’t really seem all that difficult, City have been through a tough run of games. Bury was expected, just the nature of the draw with Bury levelling three times, that felt like a real stunner, then Notts County, surely three easy points but we met them just at a time when the wheels had been firmly re-attached not fallen off, look at their results since. Northamption, well it’s always difficult playing a side that doesn’t want to win then Stevenage. If we thought they were mugs before (and I didn’t) we now know they’re not.

I’ll not pretend I’m unconcerned about current form. The trouble with going undefeated for a long time is you can end up drawing a lot, which we have. It might have been better to lose a couple and win two but you can’t have everything’.

Anyway, all is not lost, far from it. It’s probably as well to be away from Sincil Bank and all that expectation and then back again a week tomorrow to play opponents who will have been travelling for most of the day, at least that’s the theory. We've got to trust in the manager and the players and hang in there.

Friday, 15 February 2019

A club on the move.

It was Lincoln City’s annual general meeting this week. This is when the shareholders, of which I’m one, meet with the directors of the club to authorise the way the board run the show. The organisation of the club is a matter for the board but they, ultimately are responsible to the shareholders so just to quote one of the functions of the AGM each director only sits on the board for a certain length of time and, assuming he or she wished to continue after that, must submit themselves for re election. Similarly a new director wishing to serve on the board must be elected by the shareholders.

There are other functions of being a shareholder and the board and chairman are available to be questioned, and they are questioned by the shareholders as to the way the club is run. I find it quite amusing that sometimes the chairman seems to be expecting possibly a battle over something or other and I’d imagine there would have been quite a few of those over the years but it’s quite diverting to see the look of relief when the moment passes. I have to say, just as there probably has never been a better time to be a fan of Lincoln City the same can be said of being a director and chairman.

Of course one of the main functions of the AGM is to receive and approve the yearly accounts and these make good reading although, as everyone now knows the club did make a loss in the last financial year and the reason for that is the club are making hay while the sun shines. Those losses, we learned on Wednesday, I don’t think I’m saying anything I shouldn’t do here, those losses are covered by inward investment from parties who are not yet on the board so the club are investing income and more in an attempt to move the club up the pyramid, but in a sensible and sustainable way. Truly, I think you’ll agree, wonderful times to be an Imp as we head for waters unexplored for some considerable time..

There aren’t many circumstances where the club would not sell shares to supporters, it helps the club and you get a say in the doings of the board. It doesn’t have to be a large amount. Why not give it a go yourselves?

On to Saturday and another home game. Unusually for me I’ve been to a couple of away games so it’s been a continuous diet of footy, not that I’m complaining but I’m looking forward to seeing Paul Farman again tomorrow. Mostly I’m looking forward to seeing him pick the ball out of Stevenage’s net. Keep that to yourselves won’t you?

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Lady luck smiles on the Imps. At least someone’s on our side.

City drew again. Once again there were mitigating factors that made it possibly point gained rather than two dropped. All our fellow contenders bar Bury lost. Interestingly, Notts County dealt one of them, Forest Green Rovers, quite a hefty blow. I was quite upset about that but then I read the reasons, the pitch, the ref, who else? Oh yes, the players. That Mark Cooper eh? Got an answer for everything as long as the answer isn’t Mark Cooper.

Talking of hefty blows, Northampton seemed to not be averse to dishing the treatment out, Freck was body checked which is a polite way of saying clattered, for which not even a free kick was awarded despite the fact it looked deliberate and in due course the player was forced off. A more cynical type than myself might well surmise that was a deliberate ploy and it certainly worked. Before the sending off Buchanan felled Anderson in front of the dugouts and was booked, one of several Cobblers. Was Andersons own lunge retribution? It wasn’t that thoughtful but it was certainly red. Danny tried to argue that point without too much conviction. Later in the game Buchanan committed another transgression and the referees hand went to his pocket only to emerge cardless as, presumably, the referee realised he’d been booked and it would mean a sending off.

I don’t like to moan about referees in this blog as I’ve been to too many games as a neutral where the crowd have been incensed about a ref who I thought was doing ok. What I do object to, and this isn’t the first time this season, is a referee deciding pre game that we are a large and demanding crowd and he is going to avoid any accusations of being a homer by not giving the decisions he should in City’s favour. I hope the assessor will be pointing out to Mr Salisbury that he wrongly waved away a possible penalty when Cian Bolger was hauled down and an absolute stonewall handball, both of these incidents he saw. Together with last weekends masterclass in favouring the underdogs a less forgiving judge than myself might come to the conclusion that there is a conspiracy against us.

It did occur that, had a penalty been given both our regular spot kick specialists were off the pitch, Frecklington no doubt nursing considerable bruising and the excellent Akinde having run himself into the ground. At least the referees reluctance to see justice done saved City the task of finding another taker.

As it happens the Imps gained another point on the pack, with the exception of Bury who continue to impress. At least when we were all shouting at the referee we weren’t directing our anger elsewhere or indeed at our own number and I sincerely hope that everyone now realises that no one will help us in our quest bar ourselves, quite the reverse in fact. The crowd were excellent yesterday, loud and partisan. That needs to continue to the end of the season.

As the advert says, enough of the nonsense.

Friday, 8 February 2019

I’m all for freedom of speech but………….

I used to enjoy the old message boards, I posted on the redimps one, I was the self styled “impossible dream”. Nowadays we’re dreaming no longer but any more weeks like last week and it’ll all be a distant memory.

I don’t go on Banter, never have but my son occasionally passes on some gems he’s read on there and I have to say I’m glad I’m out of that particular loop.

Last Saturday was disappointing, there’s no point in denying that although again, there’s nothing wrong with drawing away as long as the home form is good, which it is. Have Notts County turned a corner? Maybe they have at least stopped the rot but they’ve left themselves an awful lot to do. Have Magpies fatally damaged City’s promotion hopes? No of course not. Was John Akindes penalty miss something to be ashamed of? Hardly. We can’t say that many of his goals come from penalties then gripe about one slip up. Akinde is the best penalty taker I’ve seen bar none but I tell you what, if he doesn’t step up to take the next one, after the reaction to the miss, we can all hang our heads in shame.

Up until now I’ve been firmly of the opinion that the Cowleys tenure at Lincoln will go on until the brothers feel they can do no more. After this last week I’m not so sure of that. The Cowleys are still here because they believe what they have at Lincoln is something that even the best and most successful managers don’t have. Unequivocal and unquestioning support from the fans. I’ll add another un, unconditional. They look at, say the performance against Crewe last season which was awful as I’m sure we all agree but the managers and players were given the benefit of the doubt by the supporters and we all moved on. We can’t say anyone was given that forbearance last Saturday. City weren’t that bad and didn’t lose the match. We’ve got where we are by being great fans home and away. For goodness sake let’s not lose sight of that.

Every cloud has a silver lining though and for every brickbat there were ten messages of support. I hope it’s those fans the players and manager are hearing rather than the nonsense.

Northampton at home tomorrow. Let’s get back to business. Up the Imps.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

A tale of two penalties.

I was born in Newark. All my family from that side are Forest fans. I was transported to civilization at an early age. I’m Lincoln through and through although not a true yellowbelly I might as well be. As a Lincoln City fan I long for the day that we show Notts County what were about. That it takes more than coming from a big city to punch your weight in the football league.

Everything about Meadow Lane says big time, apart from the team of course. Yet that team is not the one that got them into the pickle they find themselves in. A change of management and recent additions have made a difference. County are looked down upon by Nottingham Forest and they in turn like to look down on the likes of Lincoln City, like that two Ronnies sketch (ask your Dad) but this year is different. They are the poor relations and it is City that are in the ascendancy. Unfortunately no one told the referee whose attitude was cor, look at all those seats. This is a big club. I must make sure that I mind my P’s and Q’s except of course he did give City a penalty.

Ah yes, the penalty. I’m not going to accuse John Akinde of letting the side down, he’s got plenty of accusers, I can’t for the life of me think why. He’s a better penalty taker than Freck and an awful lot better than Matt Rhead but no one criticises Matt. I’m not going to make matters any worse for him. I don’t think the vocal minority count for anything but when I hear the manager state that Akinde will come in for some flack I can see the eventual end of the road for this wonderful relationship the vast majority of us have with the management.

City weren’t at their best, there’s no point in denying that but Akinde wasn’t the worst offender. I love Shay McCartan to bits but ineffective is not the word for his performance and it was really no surprise he didn’t reappear after the break. City were in one of those couldn’t get going moods and whilst they looked a lot better than Magpies, pound for pound that winner just wouldn’t come even when a golden opportunity arose.

Yet, it’s another point on the road. The Imps are still top with a game in hand. That game must be won and then, for me, the title clincher, Mansfield away is to come. Win that, or draw and Stags are the ones stopped in their tracks. Lose it of course and we’ll be looking at a top three place.

That wouldn’t be the end of the world but don’t write City off yet. Mansfield away? Right up their street if you ask me.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Cowleys covering every Angol.

That got everyone talking didn’t it? When my wife told me I said that’ll be popular-not. To be honest I’d not even realised Angol had gone to Shrewsbury but it’s league one Shrewsbury lets not forget so someone saw something in him.

Looking back we all saw something in him and most of us expected Angol to become an Imp permanently. He was spirited away on a doubled salary apparently and no doubt promises of the moon from you know who. When you think of the average length of a football career and the fact he didn’t look likely to become a top player can we really blame him for taking the dosh?

This certainly tells me something about the Cowleys and the art of building a successful team. They don’t hold grudges and they will pursue their man. I takes more than money to make a winning team. If that’s all it involves Mansfield Town and our opponents tomorrow, Notts County would be where City are now and the Imps would be where the Stags are. As for Magpies I really don’t know. We’ll see tomorrow if they have any fight in them. My guess is they will and my hope is it won’t be enough.

I’ve supported the Imps for a long long time. The best teams I’ve seen are Graham Taylors all conquering champions and Colin Murphy’s side that were oh so close to the championship (as it’s called now). This present team, this squad certainly are up there with them. Both those sides failed to achieve what they should have due to lack of support at boardroom level. That’s not the case now so when you leave aside the Angol controversy and look at the quality of what we have and the potential of the recruits for me that gives the present set up the edge.

Just once again looking at Mansfield and Notts it just goes to show money is just a component in the general scheme of things. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if Mansfield didn’t sign Angol so City couldn’t. Either way it didn’t work out for them or the player but the Cowleys aren’t about making gestures and proving points. Softly softly is the mantra and the end result is all that matters.

What will the end result be? I don’t know but as we all prepare to travel to Nottingham it is the Imps who go as the top club in the East Midlands in league two despite the spending and the history and the grandeur of Meadow Lane. How does that make you feel? Me too.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Give a little respect.

I’ve been away for a few days. Scotland, yes very nice thanks for asking. Our accommodation, being co owned by my football buddies wife was equipped with Sky Sports so those of us who wanted to saw the game on Saturday before we went out later.

Now I try to be objective in this blog. I don’t follow the herd, I’ll say if I thought the referee had a poor game but won’t blame him if City lose. I’ll say if I thought the opposition was good and let me say this now, Bury were better than good, they were irresistible.

The TV people had clearly got their own views on how the game ought to pan out. So the pundits, it seemed to me, were either connected to Bury or were wishing them well. Good against evil. Gentlemen verses ruffians. They certainly didn’t expect what they got which was Lincoln City taking the game to Bury in their own back yard and almost coming away with all three points. Almost but not quite. I’m sure I heard the sighs of relief when Bury clawed their way to a point.

Bury looked really really good. I fancy both of us to be in league one next season but City and I would say this wouldn’t I? City looked like champions elect. I was waiting for the they’re good at what they do and long ball comments and I’m sure we got them. City ARE good at what they do. They play the ball to feet when it’s the right thing to do and quickly forward when that’s the correct option. They stand their ground and don’t take prisoners, what’s wrong with that?

Everything listening to that commentary. Praise did come but it was grudging. They looked and looked but couldn’t find anything wrong with the penalty, one of the goals was offside but that decision is the referees, sorry pundits. Complements were heaped on Bury, we did so ourselves but come on, they came from behind three times to snatch a point from us at the death. That, as far as I’m concerned makes Lincoln City a very good side indeed.