Andrew Abbott's Blog

Sunday, 29 August 2010


This is slightly out of order but this is the test piece that I had to submit Give Me Football to gain a place in the PFA editorial team.

Every English and Scottish football fan knows Chris Sutton, legendary part of the SAS attack of Blackburn Rovers with Alan Shearer, glittering career with Norwich City, Villa and Celtic amongst others, famous also for turning down Glen Hoddle who wanted him to play for the England B side. What fans may not know is that Sutton is now manager of Lincoln City in League Two. Who? You might well ask.

Well, Lincon City is a small club in a small city in the East of England. If they were bigger and more infuential they'd be a poor mans Norwich City. Last year saw them "celebrate" 125 years of mainly tortured existence interspersed with the occasional excitement or even (whisper it quietly) promotion.

Lincoln City distinguised themselves by being the first football club to be automatically relegated from the Football League and into the Conference. At least they had the decency to be immediately promoted after one season, as champions, in those days you had to be champion to go up: no playoffs then. A single promotion followed by the inevitable relegation are the only matters of note latterly, if you discount going into administration and subsequent rebirth as a community club, whatever that means.

Administration did have a lasting effect on the ethos of the club. There's a determination, insistence even that those times will never return. Even more problems then for a young manager keen to make his name in the most difficult arena of football. No cutting and running with all the local traders cash for which they'll get 10p in the pound or some worthless shares, chasing that elusive promotion demanded by the chairman, just the daily slog of making ends meet or, at this time of the season persuading players who think they're worth £1500 a week that their immediate future lies earning less than half that playing for a club that makes Doncaster Rovers look like Real Madrid?

So what made someone like Chris Sutton, several seasons playing at top clubs on premiership wages and by all accounts pleasantly situated with a business in leafy, affluent North Norfolk want to move into an apartment near the training ground and spend his Saturday afternoons in a dug out not very far from the not always discerning patrons of Lincoln City FC, who are only too willing to helpfully point out to him where he is going wrong? The short answer is your correspondent doesn't know, other than to question the sanity of the likes of David Cameron, Sir Alan Sugar, and Sir Richard Branson etc all who presumably don't need to get out of bed and put themselves through what they do either.

It's also fair to say it's a safe bet that Chris Sutton wouldn't regard steering Lincoln City to a league above or (stuff of dreams) the Championship for the rest of his career to be a particularly attractive option but you have to start somewhere and, if Wikipedia is to be believed Inverness Caledonian Thistle didn't want him so here he is.

So how's he doing? Well Lincoln City didn't get relegated which had to be item one on the clubs wish list. A pretty comprehensive clear out has ensued and this season's team will largely be Suttons. After the loquacious Peter Jackson, Suttons one word answer interview technique doesn't endear him to everyone although he certainly impressed the board of directors who took a punt on a complete novice but this may have been more to do with being between a rock and a hard pace due to the fact that apparently Jackson had spent all the budget.

Sutton manages like he used to play, hard but he's got a pragmatic streak too. Scott Kerr, the Imps longest serving player and captain quickly found himself dumped along with several others, too unfit was the gaffers verdict but Scotty is no shrinking violet. Player of the season previously Kerr did what he does best; grafted and now he's back in the side.

I don't know Chris Sutton; the closest I got to him was when he got sent to the stands (twice) and ended up two rows from me. There was never any chance of any banter though; I don't think he even knew we were there. Will he bring us success? I don't know and that's the beauty of football you just never know but I do know one thing. Lincoln City in May could be totally useless, a waste of space, unambitious and lacking in all departments but I've got my season ticket and they're my club. Come the start of the season I'll be there full of hope and expectation, all doubts pushed to the back of my mind. COME ON CITY you can do it.....Can't you?

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