Andrew Abbott's Blog

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Form on the road has gone away.

I did say yesterday I would have settled for a draw before the York fixture but in the end the Minstermen had a relatively untroubled three points as City failed to get in the Yorkshiremen’s faces which was surely the only way the Imps were going to get anything out of the game. Pilkington scored in the fourth minute, which didn’t help matters and McLaughlin added a second on fifty six minutes after which the game was effectively over.

There have been one or two questions about Joe Anyon raised following his availability for selection again after suspension. Anyon once again seems to be out of favour and was on the bench again last night, Farman preferred and it’s not as if a move is on the cards, well at least that’s what we presume as it’s all gone quiet on the Crawley front. They seem to be doing well enough without him.

Perry was hauled off after 51 minutes, taking the blame for the lack of punch up front and he seemed to be able to do little to win the fans over on Saturday at Sincil Bank although he stayed on the pitch then. We’ll know a little more of what the manager thinks when the line up is announced for the forthcoming away fixture at Newport.

Talking of the trip to Wales the team will be staying over on Friday night which will be a rarity this season, paupers that we are. The Echo are funding the hotel stay which I think is a nice gesture from the paper. Strange to think that there was some kind of spat between the Echo and Steve Tilson which certainly seemed to get under Leigh Curtis’ skin if I read the comments correctly. The Echo clearly taking the moral high ground in letting bygones be bygones. Let’s hope they and the fans that will make the trip not to mention the rest of us will be rewarded for their investment.

There was a time when virtually all City’s wins came on the road and whilst home wins will always be preferred by fans, obviously, a few away points are going to be needed after the start we have endured. Saturday would seem to present an ideal opportunity to do something about that but I’ll say no more about that as I’ve seen City come unstuck against supposedly inferior opponents more times than I’d care to remember.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Should I stay or should I go? Tilson couldn’t Kerr less.

It’s York City tonight and a reunion for old boy and former captain Scott Kerr. Love him or otherwise Scott’s battling qualities were sorely missed at the end of last season after he departed Sincil Bank for York but it need not have been as Kerr revealed that manager Steve Tilson broke the news of York’s interest and ventured no opinion of whether he wanted to keep the midfield toiler or not. Given that Kerr had been somewhat out of favour with the now definitely out of favour Tilson, as he had been initially with Chris Sutton, Scott decided that the shorter journey from his home in Leeds and the general air of impending disaster at Lincoln made the decision a no brainer. Who’s to say he was wrong as York now sit at the business end of the table whilst City do not.

The Minstermen’s website have reported City’s recent recovery of form offering the opinion that it’s a shame that York didn’t meet the Imps earlier in the season when they were, by common consensus, a pushover. In the small pool that is the Blue Square Bet Premier news travel fast and tonight will be a good tester for City’s new resolve and, hopefully much sharper fitness level.

As well as Kerr there are several Imps with York connections, Simon Russell, Sam Smith, Kyle Perry and Conal Platt formerly at the Minstermen with Tyrone Thompson being a familiar face from down the road at Scarborough so if the usual form is observed the Imps can look forward to a victory as the former players score against their old clubs. That’s the way it seems to go against City anyway. Sam Smith won’t though, he’s out injured.

Whilst we were (well some of us) watching City cruise past Ebbsfleet United, York were suffering the heartbreak of a very late equaliser at Forest Green Rovers. The last time the two teams met Lincoln emerged victorious, 4.1 winners at Bootham Crescent, a rarity for City at York but that was the season they dropped out of the league and there they have been ever since which does now seem to be the fate of league teams at least for the moment as we are finding out. Those days of Murphy’s Mission for those of us ancient enough to have been there a very different experience to nowadays but at least our enthusiastic but hard taskmaster is showing signs that he knows the direction we should be taking. A win tonight would very much be a bonus though. I would settle for a draw right now.

David Holdsworth was delighted with the win last weekend, obviously but pleased also that lessons are being learned in training:-

“Discipline showed on Saturday and was a huge part. Prior to that we’d conceded three penalties so discipline, I put on the training ground you know, standing up in the challenge, competing correctly and we came away without a booking and without any problems really to be seen so that means they get to the ball a little bit quicker. We just spoke to the players about the team that’s fouled most or the team that gives away the most fouls they’re either the fittest or the least fit so they’re little factors that we bring in.”

I think that makes sense but the most important thing is does it make sense to the players? If the answer is yes then were on a winner. We could do with that.

I’m a celebrity – get me out of Heir!

Not really, I think the Prince of Wales has a soft spot for his alma mater although he’ll not be going to his old stamping ground at RAF Cranwell when he visits the County with the Duchess of Cornwall today he’ll be indulging his twin passions of architecture and farming, visiting Lincoln Cathedral to see the latest conservation efforts. A planned visit to the roof to get up close and personal with St Hugh is off due to the expected high winds but the Royal Couple will go behind the scenes to see the work of the needlework guild when they inspect new Chapter copes and will also see participants on the Princes Foundation for the Built Environment apprenticeships programme.

Afterwards the Prince visits Riseholme Agricultural College and the Duchess will meet with the Lincolnshire South Women’s Institute at Great Hale before upholding a great Lincolnshire tradition, finishing off at the pub. In this case the Cholmeley Arms at Burton-le-Coggles, a pub is the hub initiative, squeezing in a look at Berry Farm Shop before the old crème de menthe frappes.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Lincolnshire Echo sponsor overnight stay.

Leigh Curtis, Lincolnshire Echo's Imps corresspondent has tweeted this morning that the Echo will be covering the clubs expenses to enable the team to stay overnight for the forthcoming fixture against Newport County.

With the Welshmen being below the Imps in the table this fixture represents a good chance to get amongst the points this weekend and move away from the danger zone so I'm sure fans will be grateful to our local paper for making this gesture as without it the team would be stuck with a long journey before the game.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

David Holdsworth revives the idea that going to home matches should be enjoyable.

I had this lovely dream last night that I went along to watch the Imps play a not terribly good team at Sincil Bank and, instead of huffing and puffing their way to a draw or defeat a reasonably fit and certainly motivated City team crashed in three good goals and sent the opposition packing and the sparse crowd home celebrating the fact that, whilst 3.0 may have flattered the home team a little nevertheless it was three more points and, lets face it, City have been on the wrong end of such a performance so many times themselves.

Imagine my surprise to open my Sunday paper and find it was not a dream at all, City are becoming like a lot of other teams, working hard and winning home games. That’s two on the trot and furthermore the last ten minutes did not have to be watched with hands over the eyes.

Make no mistake about it. Other clubs seem to be able to survive and even prosper on the sort of gates City get but if home attendances do not improve markedly the whole future of the club is in jeopardy let alone the prospect of getting back into league football in less than a decade. David Holdsworth has come up with a novel (for us) strategy; play well and win home games. I’ve commented before that Holdsworth has an enigmatic way about him which reminds me of previous successful Lincoln City managers and even such luminaries as Mourinho, Clough, Shankly etc. Can you see where my overactive imagination is taking me? Well I’ll stop right there and limit myself to this one achievable objective. If we win the majority of our remaining home games and pick up a few points on the road we’ll be ok. That shows us what a shambles of a season we’ve had so far and I don’t suppose I’m that unusual in now being happy just to have the chance to compete at the same level next season.

Having got all of that out of the way I’ll now admit I really enjoyed yesterday’s game v Ebbsfleet United. For those (many) that didn’t go it was a lot closer than the 3.0 scoreline suggested. Again for those that have stopped going City are not achieving a little more success by going long ball or Beck-esque, we’re not. There is some very good football on offer and there is some pragmatic play too. Holdsworth admitted the players are receiving intensive coaching in two touch football and that showed yesterday, the players frequently bettering their admittedly limited opposition in those close quarters situations that seem to increase the further you go down the league pyramid. At times it’s like watching school football as everyone runs after the ball but at least City are showing an increased ability to get to grips with this standard.

A cracking opener, a 20 yarder from Conal Platt, a volley from Simon Russell and (for once) a very well struck free kick from John Nutter saw City home. The new players are all performing a lot better than the players they have replaced. On this evidence, fears that Tyrone Thompson might not be up to scratch seem to be groundless, apart from the fact that he’s the spitting image of Ali Fuseini.

York away next, which might bring us down to earth with a bump followed by Newport, again away but surely that one is winnable.

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Fleet sets sail for Lincoln.

Back to action again after what seems an age since we were last at Sincil Bank with the visit of Ebbsfleet United. They came unstuck at home against Darlington last weekend when Darlo put paid to their six league games unbeaten run, winning 3.1. Something like that, an unbeaten run not coming unstuck, would do City a power of good as they look to finally get their season going after the stuttering season so far. It’ll be Christmas in four weeks and you know what people say about teams at the bottom of the league then.

Fleet were derailed, if you’ll forgive the pun by a Darlington side in what the curiously named News Shopper paper described as a cagey affair, the Shopper went on to say United would be looking to bounce back at Lincoln. Naturally we all hope they won’t but who knows? City fans have had to steel themselves for anything as the teams credibility have sunk as low as, well, a scuppered fleet but as ever, David Holdsworth remains positive although we are starting to get a few home truths in the interviews he is giving.

I have mentioned this before but I can’t help but find comparisons between our manager and both John Beck and Colin Murphy, both of course successful managers so no complaints from me if he emulates them. He writes in his programme notes:-

“As you would expect when a new manager takes over at a football club, there will be changes and certainly that’s the case so far in terms of the ethos and structure of the club” There’s that structure word again.

“We must implement some old school basic judgements and they’re called honesty, commitment and integrity-certainly key factors in what I believe the city is about and what the football club should be based on.” Starting to lose the thread a bit but we’ll press on.

“My players will understand the mentality required to get out of the horrible position we find ourselves in the league and if we adopt this sooner rather than later we will certainly climb the table and put ourselves in a position where we’re looking forward rather than behind”

No mention of deranged ferrets there at least and we’re all looking forward because to look back, at least over the last three or four seasons is just too awful to contemplate and it’s hard to think back a few seasons to trips to Cardiff, not to mention Stoke, Reading, Fulham and Manchester City. Oh well mustn’t get too maudlin and it will be good to get down to Sincil Bank tomorrow, have a pint of Batemans (other beverages on sale) and hopefully watch a fitter, stronger Lincoln City get to grips with the Fleet and set a course for survival and a better future and that really is enough of those dreadful puns.

Another departure.

Ali Fuseini has left Lincoln City by mutual consent. Does that mean a payoff?

Don't mean to be unkind but I'm not sure I'll notice his absence.

Lincolnshire this week.

Today is supposedly black Friday, at least in America but no doubt in a year or two we’ll all have adopted it here as we usually do. Not black news on the roads just for a change as a section of the newly dualled A46 between Car Colston and Saxondale opens. For the uninitiated this is part of work to complete the dualling of the road between Newark and Widmerpool, just outside Leicester which eventually will mean a dual carriageway all the way from Lincoln to the M1 bringing the motorway system nearer in terms of journey times and meaning that Lincoln is not quite as remote as we once were. Indeed, for journeys to Heathrow, West London etc not to mention Nottingham, Leicester and more distant destinations, Oxford, Northampton we are in great danger of no longer being the country bumpkins everyone thinks we are.

A proposal to create a rail-freight hub to enable food producers in the South of the county to get their produce to market by rail rather than road has been retained in the face of objections from locals who asked that the scheme be re examined. South Holland District Council voted to reject the request at a meeting on Wednesday and will press on with Deeping St Nicholas as the preferred site. A spokesman for South Holland, Councillor Howard Johnson said:-

“We believe there is a solid and compelling case that a rail freight interchange will bring jobs and businesses to South Holland”

Staying in the South of the county BBC Lincolnshire’s Scott Dalton donned his wellies to report a planned mass tree planting this weekend at Wyberton, just outside Boston where thousands of trees which will be enjoyed by future generations will be planted by local children.

In Lincoln preparations are going ahead for the Christmas Market which begins on Thursday. The weather forecast is for rain which isn’t brilliant but better than the very heavy snow we were buried under this time last year that caused the market to be cancelled. Everyone hopes to make up for the losses and the heartache which got Christmas off to a bad start then.

In Boston the Christmas lights are on, this year turned on by the Mayor in a proper ceremony unlike last year when an electrician simply threw the switch and they were on. They’re new ones too and the local traders are hoping for something of a reprieve from the bad economic outlook and, locally the work to repave the market place which is causing more than a little disruption.

Caistor has won the award for Best Kept Market Town in the East Midlands for the third year in a row. Not only that but the competitors for the prize were Market Deeping, Holbeach and Spilsby, all in our fair county. Recognition that Lincolnshire has much to offer. The judge's report said:-

"A pleasure to visit such a progressive town where things happen to enhance community life. Well done to all concerned and also for your Arts & Heritage Centre and the television documentary. We, of course, took advantage of the excellent cafe."

This is Lincolnshire we’re talking about? Lets hope all this doesn’t lead to an influx into Britains best kept secret.

Finally an album of photographs showing the worlds first tanks which were developed in Lincoln have been sold at well above their guide price. The collection of about 50 black and white pictures of the First World War weapons were expected to reach between £200 - £400 but they sold for a whopping £4600. The pictures illustrate the war machines which were produced at the William Foster factory in Waterloo Street. The novelty comes from the fact that there were limited opportunities to photograph the secret weapon, consequently they are extremely rare.

Have a good week, wherever you are reading this.

                                        Lincoln Christmas Market. Not long to wait now.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

McCallum a Bee-for now.

Gavin McCallum, as widely predicted has been loaned to Barnet.

Almost forgotten keeper Doug Lindberg has left City by mutual consent. No surprises there really. The question is, does Joe Anyon regain his place following his suspension? Yes in my opinion but the manager may wish to exact punishment on the first choice keeper for his sending off.

Having watched the first goal at Wrexham on Imps Player personally I would get Anyon back between the sticks asap but there again I'm the man who said Watts would come good.

Incidentally it doesn't seem five minutes since all the speculation was of Anyon departing to Crawley, maybe that's still on the cards.

Stand up for a good night out in Lincoln.

Maybe it’s the university, maybe we’ve all got better at taking opportunities when they arise but you’ve got to say there’s plenty to do in Lincoln these days with good quality entertainment on offer at the various venues.

Last night it was Andy Parsons at the Engine Shed, a name that seemed to particularly tickle the now well established stand up comedian and TV personality. In fact Parsons is on so much that he’s in danger of becoming mainstream which probably wouldn’t please him.

We saw the West Country comedian at the Drill Hall maybe a year or two ago and he’s matured as a performer and possibly it was more of a belly laugh when he was in his more frantic earlier days, indeed there was almost a touch of Dave Allen when he actually sat on the bar stool provided and chatted to the audience about his own early days as a comedian, performing to almost no one and even they had not paid or were at the wrong show. That’s not to say it was not funny because it was. Very funny and really quite rude.

Andy delivered an effortless new routine, probably a little more effortless than the audience who took a while to warm up but once they got going they were cheering for more at the end which of course they got. The reason I say of course is that we were told he was going to go off and come back for an encore if we made enough noise. That’s Andy Parsons, nothing left to chance. The usual mickey take of the venue, Lincoln, the railway crossing they were all there. Hopefully he’ll be back and I would imagine most if not all of last nights audience will want to be there too.

In the weeks to come we’ve got tickets for Jack Dee, Chris Addison and Sarah Millican. If we can get in we’re planning on seeing Mark Watson and Stewart Lee and that’s outside the Lincoln Comedy Festival. There are good musical acts on at the Engine Shed too, if you can get in quick enough to beat the students.

Engine Shed, Drill Hall, Theatre Royal, Terry O’Toole theatre and many others, great venues to enjoy great live entertainment in a great little city. Make sure you enjoy it yourself.

                                      Nicked from Andys web site, I'm sure he won't mind!

Monday, 21 November 2011

The revolving door gathering pace?

The rumour mill also with even the official site urging us to stay tuned for up to the minute news of player movement.

The Echo’s Leigh Curtis reckons Gavin McCallum will be the next one out of the exit and he was certainly right last week getting all three new arrivals spot on. McCallum was believed to be holding out for a league club but the names in the frame include Alfreton, the other being Barnet, talk about in between a rock and a hard place!

With all this activity I hope we’re in a similar situation to when John Beck re shaped the team in a precursor to eventual promotion. We were in real trouble then, as now, before the enigmatic Beck fashioned a winning team from the car crash of a team we had. We can only hope.

A realisation that we are privileged indeed

To Lincoln Cathedral last Saturday for a performance by the Lincoln Choral Society of Messiah by G. F. Handel. That’s the one with the Halleluiah chorus and as I listened to the choir’s beautiful performance of that particular segment I couldn’t help thinking old Handel must have realised when he wrote the music he’d really cracked it. George Frideric was of course a German but by the time he wrote Messiah he was in England and I had this thought of the composer putting down his quill pen, headed straight for the pub and said to his mates “ lads, I’ve just written a chorus and I don’t think I’ll better it if I live to be a hundred.” The truth is probably nothing like that, maybe he just went to church.

As I sat in our fabulous cathedral I was struck by several thoughts, not least when the cathedral was built it was probably the most important building project in Europe at that time, probably the world, here in Lincoln, a city that is no longer a major one but it was then and nothing but the best would do. I think it’s the best but then I would. It was certainly the tallest building in the world until the central spire collapsed. I’d almost forgotten what a marvellous building it is from the inside.

The music, the light against the mellow limestone it was a wonderful setting for the soaring beauty of the music that traditionally heralds the coming Christmas season. For a local production, the music was provided by the Lincolnshire Chamber Orchestra, the singers are all local apart from the soloists who are professional musicians the performance was exceptional, here in Lincoln. We are indeed lucky to be where we are, something I think we don’t always appreciate.

Talking of soloists, and of soaring beauty Nicki Kennedy, soprano, was a musical and visual treat, other soloists available. You can keep your X factor!

                                         Handel and Lincoln Cathedral. A great combination.

Green, green grass of home for the Reds

In the general scheme of things a defeat to top of the table Wrexham didn’t ought to cause too many ripples in the pond that is the Blue Square Bet Premier League but our problem is we desperately need points.

Just looking at the game which I notice is on Imps Player in its entirety City appeared to be well in the match but, as is the habit with successful sides Wrexham took their chances and, as is the habit with unsuccessful teams City didn’t. There was a controversial penalty although as they say on Match of the Day, I’ve seen ‘em given, as indeed it was. It was definitely ball to hand from close quarters but I suppose the controversial thing was that, given the total lack of reaction from the Welshmen, they clearly regarded the incident as one of those things or indeed, didn’t see it as handball.

It was widely supposed, listening to the radio commentary, that the referee couldn’t have seen the incident and the assistant referee, like the Wrexham players clearly didn’t see it as a deliberate handball but as the referee, urged by the City players, went to consult said lino guess what? He agreed with the referee.

The Imps were the author of their own downfall for the first goal having dominated the early stages, the defence and particularly keeper Paul Farman, could have done much better and the ball rolled by Farmans near post to give Wrexham a lead that they were unlikely to surrender even without the officials help.

Ebbsfleet next and a more winnable opportunity for the Imps in their quest to move away from the wrong end of the table, they sit uneasily in the lower reaches of mid table. After that it’s York and then a return to Wales, where surely the Imps will have an eye on all three points at Newport.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Holdsworth: Don’t expect an easy time.

It’s only been a couple of weeks away but it feels like the season is just starting. David Holdsworth would like to be starting over to a certain extent although of course he did finish the last game on a high, winning the last home game against Barrow. Talking of the North West club, Danny Hone has been signed by them on an emergency loan. Presumably his wages being less of a stumbling block than Adam Watts although they could have looked at the respective performances and decided they preferred young Hone. He must be disappointed to be farmed out again but he’ll prefer playing to sitting around in the Echo Stand if that is what he judged his immediate future held for him.

The manager told the assembled hacks that the players had worked particularly hard and said the team wanted to play and wanted to be fit so we all know who must be responsible for them not being. Those taking things for granted were warned against it, there will be competition for places. Asked whether he had any help with training Holdsworth was at pains to suggest whilst friends had lent a hand when they could he saw it as his responsibility to train the team but he also revealed a turn of phrase which suggests it could be quite good fun to report on the Imps. He certainly had the Echo’s Leigh Curtis laughing out loud when he said there was no pot of gold that we’ve got at Sincil Bank, more of a thimble.

As to Wrexham, to quote the manager a home win on the pools coupon:-

“No look, I’m being a little bit facetious, people won’t expect us to get anything there and probably rightly so given the texture of the performances Lincoln City have put in so far but we might just go there and…. We’ll give a good account of ourselves, we’ll be organised and the commitment’s there which is good. I think the fans that come to see us when we travel away from home and they come and support us, they want to see a wholehearted performance and we’ll demand that.

It wasn’t all stick:-

“It gave me a bit more time to find out the personality of the dressing room and the character, if there was any and certainly there is and I learned a lot more about some of the boys and there’s some good lads here you know, I must say that.

Some of them were falling a little bit along the wayside but there’s some good boys here that just need a little bit of guidance and a bit of tough love.”

“I’m going there to win, I’ve spoken to various people who said we played very well against Barrow who hadn’t lost for a while and we took the fight to them.”

We’ll need to do that for certain today, no one gives us a prayer so let’s see.

Finally, who does this sound like?

“When he runs, he’s like a wild boar running through the Umbrian hills"

 Wild boar/deranged ferret, certainly sounds like someone I used to know?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

As predicted in this blog.

Not by me obviously!

Tyrone Thompson has agreed to come to the Imps until January 2012 and  Luke Medley and Jake Sheriden have agreed loan moves to Sincil Bank and we can no doubt expect to see them all during their time at Lincoln given the need for the team to be freshened up. No doubt they will be in the squad for the tough trip to Wrexham and we will just have to see if they all play. My guess is they will one way or another.

Thompson is in fact on his second stint with the Imps having played nine years ago when on loan from Sheffield United.

Lincolnshire this week.

After the excitement of the BBC Lincolnshire/Lincolnshire Echo Children in Need cycle ride from Neustadt an der Weinstrasse to Lincoln which incidentally has now raised over £30000 towards Friday nights TV extravaganza, Matt Baker, celebrity farmer, TV presenter etc etc passed through Lincs on his way from Edinburgh to London by rickshaw. He is pedalling by the way, not in the back.

Lincolnshire is far from the wealthiest area of the country yet local people dug deep once again, contributing more money than at any of the other overnight stops and waiting over three hours to welcome the exhausted Matt to Lincoln as he was delayed on route. I just reviewed the footage of the Lincolnshire ride noting our riders, Rod Whiting, Louise Wheeler and John Pakey from the Echo struggling on in splendid isolation whilst Matt has motorcycle out riders, cameras and masseurs with him. Rod did comment on his radio show though that this could often be an advantage as they could get on with their task away from the glare of publicity.

It’s sometimes a forgotten industry but we do still have a fishing fleet in the county and Boston fishermen have been in the news highlighting the parlous state of cockle fishing and saying that they have been limited to just 40 days cockle fishing in the Wash this year by EU restrictions. Worse still, the quotas are actually causing the deaths of the cockle stocks. Ken Bagley told local paper the Target:-

“They are bankrupting us. We can’t possibly make a living with these quotas and they know that.

“They care more about the sea birds then they do the fishermen. But what they are doing is hurting the birds and nature too.

“What is the point of leaving thousands of cockles out there to die and rot?”

The University of Lincoln has been in trouble this week, fined £10000 with £12759 costs after admitting leaving staff and students vulnerable to the effects of asbestos at Chad Varah House. This is one of the older buildings on the campus and I believe used to be part of the Lincoln Theological College before becoming part of our rapidly expanding uni. Bottom of the class there though chaps!

There was a bit of a keystone Cops feel to an event on the outskirts of Lincoln this week when traffic was brought to a grinding halt by the discovery of a suspected bomb in works to dual part of the bypass. The chaos was made worse by experts having to come over from Nottingham to deal with the situation and could have been a complete nightmare if it really was a bomb as the boffins would have had to wait for daybreak to begin work making it safe. As it was the “device” was discovered to be no more than scrap metal. Still with the price of scrap at an all time high perhaps that will pay for the petrol home.

Lady Thatcher is back in the news but this time it’s a portrayal of her by Meryl Streep making the headlines. Ms Streeps performance of Grantham’s favourite daughter has had the critics drooling:-

“Streep has found the woman within the caricature” Kevin Maher, The Times

“Awards should be coming Streeps way” David Gritten, Daily Telegraph

“is astonishing and all but flawless” Xan Brooks, Guardian

Maggie herself could have only dreamed of reviews like that.

Finally the English Golf Union and English Women’s Golf Associations have agreed a merger. The EGU already have their headquarters in our own, leafy Woodhall Spa and the combined operation will continue from the resort becoming an inland St Andrews for the English but warmer of course and with the advantage of Batemans beer (other beverages available)

Enjoy your golf or whatever, wherever you find yourself.

Hard times at Sincil Bank

Set against a backdrop of staff reductions and redundancies at Lincoln City, David Holdsworth is attempting to shuffle his pack and the Echo’s Leigh Curtis is reporting that the manager has been linked with a move for midfielder Tyrone Thompson, formerly with Torquay, Eastwoods Jake Sheriden and Luke Medley from Kidderminster.

Holdsworth must be fed up of seeing the likes of Adam Watts, Ali Fuseini and Gavin McCallum, all on the transfer list and accounting for a fair chunk of the wage bill as he tries to bring in fresh faces to replace the stuttering “stars”. Their names have been circulated as available for loan so whether any club will want them as there have been no takers for a transfer is anyone’s guess.

McCallums inclusion has caused some debate amongst the faithful as he has at least showed some flashes of quality whereas the other two have, frankly, flopped with Fuseini largely anonymous when he has played and Watts, who I have to confess I liked at first and I wrote in the Ferret that I thought he would come good for us eventually. How wrong could I be as evidenced by that disastrous header that left Nick Draper horribly exposed and could have led to the young keeper seeing red in the cup defeat. He just hasn’t showed the consistency and sureness that such an experienced player should. Hard to believe he was harbouring dreams of premiership football at Fulham before he joined City.

The players are now stumping up £100 between them on away trips towards the cost of the pre match meal and, more positively the club are offering fans the opportunity of travelling on the team coach and seeing the game from the directors box for forthcoming away fixtures which ought to make a terrific birthday or Christmas present for an Imps mad supporter. You can enquire by e mailing and I understand there has been some interest already which I can quite understand. Perhaps the club should try to come up with some more experiences like that which were formerly off limits to fans. Apart from anything else it gives a “were all in this together” impression. When I wrote for the PFA I was invited into the boardroom for a game at Watford’s Vicarage Road stadium and even at that level it was a memorable experience.

The view from the directors box at Watford. A money can't buy experience. Until now.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Nelson sets sail for Lincoln.

There's very welcome news from Sincil Bank today. Mitchell Nelson returns on Friday for a third loan spell from Bournmouth.

Nelsons arrival was something of a surprise as it came during Grant Browns caretaker spell but the defender has certainly cemented his place in the team and would have had his loan extended earlier had the Imps not had a blank weekend.

Mitchell will not have been too disappointed to miss the mini pre season training ordered by manager David Holdsworth and Imps fans will be hoping for some more eye-catching displays from the Cherries man on the Imps patch.

The Dynasty Ball, Glasgow.

Up in Bonny Scotland last weekend for the above, which you might think is an awful long way to go for a bit of a knees up but the fact is our closest friends are Scots and they attended this event, in aid of the Darlinda Charity for renal research, last year and we joined them this year. It’s a health charity so there were a lot of medics there and also lots of media types, it’s one of Scotland’s most glittering social occasions and there were people from TV as well as the newspaper world.
Not having visited Scotland until recently it’s been an eye opener seeing and meeting ordinary Scots in their own environment as opposed to those living in England. It’s certainly lovely scenery, we managed a trip on Sunday to see Loch Lomond. Glasgow is not one of those cities that jump out at you as a weekend destination but it’s certainly up there in terms of shopping and I greatly enjoyed an all too brief visit to the Kelvingrove Gallery where I saw a particularly striking Dali painting. Not my normal cup of tea but it was an awe inspiring piece. Some charming impressionist paintings too and good examples of Scottish art. We have said we’ll go next year so I shall make sure I reserve a full day to go again. We wont need to do the open top bus tour again so that will free up some time. There’s a spitfire, an actual one suspended from the ceiling. What a sight and you can get right up close to it.

One thing you can never accuse the Scots of is being a misery at parties. The minute the band starts they’re up and on the dance floor, must be a performers dream and they keep on partying till the music packs up and the bar closes. Don’t bother with Barcelona or Prague if you’re up for a good time, get yourself invited to a Scottish do. You won’t regret it!

                                                                    Spot the celebs

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Holdsworth plots to make Imps fit for purpose.

David Holdsworth has told BBC Lincolnshire he is in the market for further reinforcements, despite City’s pauper status:-

“I do hope to have a few more new faces” he told the BBC

“We may have to sacrifice one or two to free up funds but by next week we hope to have a midfielder on board. If not one, then maybe two or three”

Quite what the manager meant by sacrifice we shall have to wait and see but with the team at the infamous army assault course today anything could happen. Presumably Holdsworth is planning to farm out on loan some of those deemed surplus to requirements, wouldn’t have minded being a fly on the wall when he sold that idea to fellow managers.

All the talk last weekend was of Joe Anyon going to Crawley Town, although that seems to have quietened down. Joe has of course been one of the few to have enhanced their reputations lately but this time last year you wouldn’t have heard many fans singing his praises and presumably he is one of the higher earners and on the transfer list to boot so it really wouldn’t be too surprising if he went. Several fans were heard to say “anywhere but Crawley” but to be honest their money is as good as anyone’s in the situation City are in (you are allowed to comment on this blog by the way!)

The gaffer has banned twitter etc as well as headphones saying he wants his players concentrating on football matters when they are on Lincoln City business. Any more of this and the players might start to get the impression they’re working for a living!

   Joe long it's been good to know you?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Lincolnshire this week.

I saw some people in hi-viz jackets on the way in to work in Boston and wondered if it was some sort of clean up and sure enough the Echo reports that prisoners towards the end of their sentences at the North Sea Camp have been helping out in the never ending battle to keep the fly tippers at bay. They cleared eight tons of rubbish!

Items recovered include builder’s rubble, tyres, mattresses, fridges, freezers, pallets televisions and household waste.

There is an annual spruce up called the Big Boston clean up and this initiative is a spin off from that. It’s a pity resources have to be put into picking up stuff that shouldn’t be there in the first place but it does show that offenders are atoning for their wrong doing in a practical way and most people would agree with that.

Personally I find a visit to the tip a bit of a trial, gone are the days when you just slung your stuff in the skip and I think the blokes there quite enjoy ordering the punters about but mostly they’re very helpful and if you get up early on a Sunday they’ll pretty much get it out the car for you. Certainly I wouldn’t just chuck it at the side of the road one dark night.

I had intended this weekly review to be an opportunity to highlight some funny or good news stories but could not let the awful news pass that another Red Arrows pilot has lost his life. Following on from the death of Flt Lt Jon Egging just three months ago, and his memorial service at Lincoln Cathedral just days ago there has been announced another death in tragic circumstances, an ejector seat malfunction whilst the plane was parked on the ground. The Reds are such a part of Lincolnshire life there’s no doubt the whole county will be subdued, as it seems to be as I write.

Here’s something to cheer us up. St Deny’s church in Sleaford installed 54 solar panels on it’s roof in 2008 having been inspired by an article in the Church Times. Three years later they now produce enough electricity to cover their annual bill. Canon John Patrick said:-

“Our annual electricity bill is about £1,400 - and we reckon that the panels are bringing in an income of more than £2,500 a year.

"So that is paying for the electricity and making a sizeable contribution towards the gas bill, which is about £5,000 per year,"

"The panels obviously make a good statement about the environment and the fact that we need to be good stewards of God's earth."

Obviously someone up there is looking out for them.

Local Olympian Kate Haywood is hoping to take part in next years London Olympics and then retire, she’s 24 which just goes to show how tough that sport is. She told BBC Lincolnshire that it still hurts that she does not have a medal having competed in Beijing in 2008. Kate started out at Louth but moved to Lincoln Vulcans, a club I used to be involved with when the children were young and which had established a reputation which belied their size, she is currently training in Australia.

And finally, talking of the Olympics, the Olympic Flame is to visit the county on the way to London, visiting many communities and major towns and making an overnight stop in Lincoln on 27 June where a massive celebration is planned at Yarborough School to which the whole community is invited. The event will be free of charge.

As always, have a good week wherever you are reading this.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

When the going gets tough.

There’ll be quite a delay before we have any footie to enthuse/moan about but that’s not to say the players of Lincoln City FC will be getting any time off, quite the reverse. Time off is something the players had enjoyed under the previous regime if the hints and titbits are anything to go by. If only they’d not spent so much time relaxing on the pitch!

One aspect the new manager has identified for rectification is a lack of fitness and David Holdsworth intends to use the several days before the team must play again as a sort of mini pre-season.

“They'll be working their socks off and learning how to be fit. Holdsworth told BBC Lincolnshire.

"Those days of people getting holidays and four or five days off are gone. I'm not interested in that.

Holdsworth intends having a day in an army training camp, was it Keith Alexander who was a big believer in that? When we hear the manager state :-

“They’ve ruined my weekend, now I’ll ruin theirs.”

We’ll know the transformation is complete.

Holdsworth alluded to the previous management regime as a holiday camp and said:-

“Butlins is shut.

"The players are so tired and fatigued after matches, it's ridiculous and it will be addressed.

"It's not a blame culture but the method will change and the boys will work extremely hard.

"They need to because we're picking up injuries that are down to tiredness."

Well we’re certainly tired of watching them lose every week and in a way the enforced “holiday” is a bit unfortunate as the team put in the best home performance for some considerable time and could have done with carrying on where they left off at 4.55 on Saturday this next weekend but of course life is never how you want it, particularly when you’re a Lincoln City fan.

We are of course used to getting our Christmas shopping done whilst the second round of the FA Cup is being played although, ironically as our standing in the game sank we did manage to progress beyond the first round for the previous two years. I would have swapped that trip to Bolton for league survival though. My daughter and I didn’t even get in until half way through the first half.

Happy days (sort of)

Picture taken from Royal Anglian Regiment web site.

BBC Local Radio began 44 years ago today.

With BBC Radio Leicester.

I well remember when we first got BBC Radio Lincolnshire. We listened to it all the time and I still listen to it today, on the way in to work and on the way home, with Rod Whiting's breakfast show and drivetime with William Wright.

One of the (few) advantages of an hour long commute is listening to the radio and catching up on Lincolnshire events. Yesterday BBC Lincolnshire was covering an awful story concerning a body that was said to have been buried many years ago, full funeral and everything but wasn't. The body has been in the mortuary all this time and probably another body is in the wrong grave.

This is the sort of story you probably only get covered in depth on local radio. Unfortunately it's not a story about Lincolnshire. With a sort of inevitablility the story is one from Hull. Our local station is BBC Lincolnshire. Hull is not in Lincolnshire.

By all means cover stories like this on the news on BBC Lincolnshire, after all it would be pretty parochial just to cover the county and nothing else but please don't dress it up as "local" because its not.

Save BBC Local Radio, and keep it local please.

Monday, 7 November 2011


That'll teach me to listen to the guys I sit with. Josh O'Keefe started on Saturday. I can't think how I missed that as firstly O'Keefe played very well in my opinion and secondly he appeared to have been taken off in error. We were convinced Richard Hinds, 2 was supposed to be substituted with O'Keefe, 23 on the ground injured however O'Keefe left the pitch and when he got back to the dugout a rueful smile and conversation with the fourth official seemed to indicate that something had gone wrong with the substitution. Gowling came on and appeared to wander about the midfield area, his place in the centre of defence still occupied by Hinds. All's well that ends well..

This is non league.

A much improved performance from the Imps on Saturday not just because a badly needed win was secured but because David Holdsworth seems to have the team on the right wavelength. They seemed more focussed, determined and more savvy. Until the end they seemed much more solid at the back and when the Barrow goal came it was just a consolation. Had they scored earlier it might have been a different story.

Here are my thoughts.

A week in, Holdsworth delivers the goods.

All we ask really, as fans, is to go along to Sincil Bank, pay our money or hand in a season ticket voucher, maybe have a pint or three and watch the Imps, whilst trying to keep it tight at the back, have a good old go at the opposition. The result of that may be win lose or draw, that’s not the issue but so many times City have not given the impression that they are the home team at all. Then the fans get the blame for not getting excited enough. On Saturday, quite the opposite.

City started with not one player from last season on the pitch, the new signings straight into the team. That was needed to be honest. City started like a train, the second half not so much but their goal survived till near the final whistle when it was breached, do they do it on purpose just to keep the interest there?

David Holdsworth promised industry, it didn’t take long to achieve that. What wasn’t expected, not by this writer at any rate was the quality of football, it wasn’t kick and rush, not by any means although the Barrow keeper was soon flat on his back as City announced their intentions but there was plenty of passing allied with a “in your face” belligerence, so lacking previously. In short, City finally found their feet in non league football. In turn, the crowd responded, the band played, bit like the old days and the team went off to a round of applause, talk about unaccustomed as I am!

David Holdsworth has declared that the players are not fit enough, which conclusion we could have all come to, at least those that were present in the FA Cup reverse when City were out muscled by a part time team. Just when they could do with keeping up the momentum, a week off for the first round proper. No rest for the players though, they will be put through some lung bursting fitness regimes including an army training exercise session.

City fans have shown time and again they still have an interest in their football team but they have stopped coming to Sincil Bank in numbers in response to the paltry fare offered. A few more performances like this should have the turnstiles clicking again, the club desperately needs better gates than they have been getting and hopefully word will soon get around that Sincil Bank is once again becoming a place not of anger and frustration but excitement and anticipation. Well done to the team and the manager.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Signs of change.

David Holdsworth has clearly taken a glance at what he's got and decided he doesn't like the look of it. I can understand where he's coming from. I based this article on the incoming players, I was certainly expecting a goal keeeper and I can understand a winger. Since publishing the article the club has signed a centre half, Richard Hinds. Now I don't profess to be a coach unlike some of the people who comment on articles but it's been blatantly obvious for some considerable time that we couldn't defend to save our lives so I don't think anyone is going to disagree with that. Plucking a striker from nowhere on no money will surely be more problematic?

The article is now on Vitals but keep logging on to the blog for a bit more content.

Signs of change.

Holdsworth: Time is something we don’t have a lot of.

After the reality check that was the FA Cup exit it’s back to the league with the visit of Barrow who this fan remembers as quite a decent footballing side but that counted for nothing when they failed to gain re election to the league under the “old pals act” that was the forerunner of automatic promotion and relegation.

Much gloom and despondency amongst the fans this week provoked by the debacle that was the “performance” against Alfreton Town and the realisation that a further relegation, bad though that may be might be only the start of the Imps problems.

David Holdsworth lightened the mood a little by signing winger Conal Platt from Cambridge and keeper Paul Farman from Gateshead. Presumably we owe both those clubs a debt of gratitude as we assume City are paying little or nothing for their upkeep if the pronouncements from the chairman are to be taken at face value. It’s come to something if that’s the case. We’re supposed to have pride in our local club. That gesture, if gesture it is provokes just embarrassment in this writer’s case.

The goal keeper position is no surprise although Nick Draper should not feel this move is a criticism. Being in goal behind such a shaky defence and being put in the position he was against Alfreton by as experienced a defender as Adam Watts is no way to start a professional career. His time will come and he did make a couple of excellent saves, one of the highlights of the match, not that it would have taken much to be a highlight in that game.

The manager, having assured all his players they will have an opportunity to impress has obviously come to the conclusion that some of our squad are and never will be what we require in the position we are in. In his own words:-

“I like nice players and silky football but we’re in a dogfight. If they’re not up to it there are plenty who are.

“We need to ruffle a few feathers.

“Are we good enough at the moment? No. We have to change and we will do.”

As the manager said, and has repeated often on BBC Lincolnshire, his phone is red hot with players wanting to pitch in. The problem is, as ever the players we have are under contract, they’re not going to give up that, not for free anyway and with the shambles of City’s start on their CV’s it’s hard to see who else would want to take them. If David Holdsworth could find a way of moving those players on to other clubs to free up opportunities to add to our squad this writer really would believe we have a miracle worker on our hands.

Richard Hinds

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Daily Stroll

Regular readers may get the impression I'm obsessed with the river but in reality there aren't a lot of places in Boston where you can get a 40-45 minute lunchtime stroll without doubling back on yourself.

Here there are two distinct sections to the River Witham. There's the non tidal bit which has been considerably enhanced by the Water Rail Way combined footpath and cycleway. There's also a country park. The other part is called The Haven and this is the tidal bit.

Before you say to yourself, they're a funny old lot in Boston calling the Witham the Haven there really was a River Haven at one time and the two got merged, presumably when the river was repositioned for navigation and drainage purposes. Anyway they call the River Thames the Isis in Oxford so what's good enough for them is good enough for us.

Todays picture is some of the boats moored up at the fishermans wharf, there's a fishmonger down here and judging by some of the houses it was considerably grander at one time than it is now.

I've met one or two of the fishermen over the time I've been here, they're good solid blokes, the salt of the earth or should that be the sea?

Lincolnshire this week.

For all you ex pat readers now settled down as the oldest swingers in town comes news that Lincoln’s Ritzy nightclub is to escape closure following the parent company going into administration.

The popular Lincoln venue, formerly Cinderella’s is to remain open but will be put on the market as a going concern, other clubs in the group, Mansfield, Brighton and Wigan will be closed immediately.

Memories of those 2am fumbles can stay (in’ alive stayin’ alive) in your memories, assuming whoever takes it over will retain it as a nightclub, it’s hard to imagine any other use for such a large building in that area. If you’ve been away from Lincoln for a considerable period, it used to be a Coop shop, not the one that kept burning down!

Tickets for the ever popular Waddington Air Show have gone on sale. The show will take place on the weekend of 30 June/ 1 July. This year there were over 140000 in attendance and as usual the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, we’ll hear them well before we see them, and the Red Arrows will be in attendance, but it will be made even more poignant by the tragic death of Flt Lt Jon Egging who lost his life with the Arrows at a display at Bournemouth. The team have been operating a man short ever since.

Lincoln’s planners have now given the go ahead for the city’s first purpose built mosque, at the old dairy site on the corner of Boultham Park Road and Dixon Street. As you may imagine this was controversial, but the protesters were anxious to point out that their objections were founded on traffic worries with the development also featuring housing and (another) supermarket. Again, if you left Lincoln some time ago the area is no longer a relatively quiet suburban district with both roads being a bit of a rat run and nose to tail a lot of the time. Presumably some road improvements will have to be paid for by the developers but it’s difficult to see major improvements due to the amount of space available. Still, a little of the East comes to the er East, but hopefully they don’t have one of those blokes with a megaphone in a minaret at four in the morning!

High Street’s level crossing continues to dominate conversations in Lincoln with network rail re routing large numbers of trains through the city due to works on the East Coast Main Line causing mayhem as the barriers are down an extra 40 times at the weekend. The long term solution is to close and pedestrianise High Street at the crossing and this week businesses affected by the resulting £20 million link road to connect St Marks Street to Pelham Bridge were told that they will be offered new premises. Lincolnshire County Council has secured £500,000 from the EC to develop seven business units in one block. The new road is expected to be in place by 2013 and it is to be hoped that the development will smarten up a pretty depressing area as well as improve traffic.

Finally, the Lincolnshire Echo reported that there were no less than six local pantomimes selling tickets for the Christmas period already. The main Lincoln offerings are the Theatre Royals Cinderella with the so old fashioned they're back in fashion Cannon and Ball appearing for a third successive season (can’t wait) and the Drill Hall’s Snow White. In addition, in the city the Lincoln Company present the Snow Queen at the Performing Arts Centre and this runs until the 24th December, oh no it doesn’t, oh yes it does. Had to get that one in.

Have a good week, wherever you are in the world.

The Drill Hall Lincoln.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Reflections on a very bad night at Sincil Bank.

Listening to David Holdsworth on BBC Lincolnshire this morning on the way in to work I thought the one overriding thing to come across is that the manager has realised that there are several players not up to the task of getting Lincoln City out of the lowly position they are in.

There’s no point in dwelling on the cup exit, that’s done with but it seems obvious that the managers previously stated willingness to give all of the players a fair crack of the whip would be time wasted and time is one thing we don’t have (money being the other and any more nights like last night, fans will be next).

All of us dream of the days when we could enjoy lovely footballing skills allied to a lofty league position, maybe Crewe Alex in their pomp or dare I say it Grimsby Town. Of course nothing is for ever as fans of those two clubs would testify but we don’t even have memories, certainly not of days like those clubs have enjoyed.

It seems clear that we are in for some combative performances, not that the fans would object to that, David Holdsworth :-

“I'm extremely disappointed and I can see why the club's in this position.

"Have we been beaten by real craft? No, we've beaten ourselves and that's not good enough.

"Right now we don't need footballers, we need horrible, gritty, nasty people on the pitch. Some of the best teams in the world were horrible and had that grit about them.

Who was he talking about, Leeds, Argentina? Right now I’d take some of that.

The manager talked of calling in a few favours and getting some new faces in. That’s what we’ve become. Cast off City. Still the late great Keith almost got us promoted on that basis. Even he didn’t have to operate from such a desperate starting point though.

Picture from BBC Lincolnshire.

Cheer up Dave, it’s only to the end of the season.

Really don't know whether I have the will to carry on following the Imps at the moment. After last night I do wonder whether we're all wasting our time but we've got a new man in charge and he seems very determined. There haven't been many highs over the years but many many lows of which getting kicked out of the FA Cup before it had even begun has to be the nadir. I tried to make light of it but depression took over in my take of the game.

City down and definitely out.

In a new low to Lincoln City’s desperate FA Cup record the club crashed out of the annual competition before it had properly begun, to an Alfreton Town team who thoroughly deserved to go through to meet Carlisle United in the first round proper.

Manager David Holdsworth must be mightily pleased he only has to suffer this pantomime until the season ends but will have seen for himself the enormity of the task ahead if he is to save the club from a second relegation. You do wonder how far this unhappy club will have to sink before signs of a heartbeat are heard again.

Yesterday your correspondent suggested that the decision to close the Stacey West Stand was a mistake and this provoked a furious debate and no, this writer is not a Stacey Wester by the way but who can say whatever was saved by not allowing fans behind the goal was good value compared to the loss of the game. Obviously it can not be argued that having no supporters in the stand caused the team to lose but it wouldn’t have done any harm to have a few of our more raucous element a few feet from the Alfreton keeper to remind him he was not in the peaceful environs of the Impact Arena. What does a gateman get paid by the way? Not the £12500 now lost to the club, not to mention the subsequent share of the gate for a game against a League One outfit.

City, in case you were fortunate enough not to witness it, were undone by a woefully inadequate header from Adam Watts, aided and abetted by a young goalkeeper rooted to the spot, the poor lad having to pick the ball out of the net from a penalty for the second time in a couple of days, he was lucky to see only yellow for his troubles, but there were plenty of opportunities for City to be over the horizon before this having taken the lead from a really crisp header from Sam Smith from Gavin McCallums equally fine cross. Having said that City’s goal came after a long period of Alfreton possession and they went on to dominate the game.

Holdsworth had to hear his first home game end to a chorus of boos, his honeymoon over as quickly as the Imps cup run. Who knows where this will all end? On last nights evidence it could be in tears. Again.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

No noise please, we're Lincoln.

This article, on Vitals now has produced a sprited response. I originally entitled it "Hold still David, just want to tie your hands behind your back."

I never thought the article was that controversial but it seems to have either struck a chord or a nerve whichever way you look at it. You can see the comments on Vitals, the article is here:-

A few days ago and just into his managerial reign David Holdsworth said:-

“It’s a big task and obviously we want to quickly arrest the results and certainly change the mindset of the players. I want to give the people of the club and the city something to cheer about and get a few smiles back on their faces.

“Confidence is the key and I hope the players can gain that by working hard on the training ground. Plus a change of standards and improvement in certain areas because we’ve had too many losses and we can’t afford to continue in that vein”

Holdsworth went on to specifically warn, with the small squad City have, against rash on field behaviour and the need to have as many of the players available for selection which means discipline on the pitch and not too many players on the treatment table.

The manager must have had those words ringing in his ears when Joe Anyon, arguably City’s best performer this season, conspired to get himself sent off at Alfreton not only contributing to the lead being wiped out by the resulting penalty but now depriving the manager of his services for three matches as the first choice keeper received the usual ban for his misdemeanour. Not only that but with Nick Draper ill and Doug Lindberg injured the Imps could go into tonight’s game with an outfield player in goal unless Holdsworth can persuade the powers that be that City’s plight merits a relaxation of the rule that states any player selected for the replay must have been able to play in the original tie, ie a loan is not allowed.

Welcome to the wacky world of Lincoln City David, where if bad play doesn’t upend you, bad luck will. Talking of wacky worlds, the Stacey West Stand, home of some of City’s most passionate, fervent and vocal fans will be closed for tonights game. You couldn’t make it up.