Andrew Abbott's Blog

Monday, 26 December 2011

Cowell left desperate as the public rage against the hits machine and buy the housewives instead.

Like most British women they scrub up well but in reality they’re just ordinary girls with decent voices, brilliantly led by a nerdy overgrown schoolboy who looks as if his Mum prepares him for public appearances but together they took on the might of Simon Cowell’s number one producing set up and won. The public preferred the Military Wives having had their fill of what seems like endless Saturday nights in front of the box which invariably produces a number one but not this time.

I have to confess I don’t watch X Factor, not willingly anyway but I did hear Little Mix on Graham Norton’s radio show and very nice they seemed but the music buying populace turned instead to a collection of pleasant but unspectacular singers with a song made up of the contents of letters sent to and from their husbands and partners.

Britain bought the single not because it was a brilliant piece of music although I thought it was extremely good and moving, especially as you could hear the words and they were from the heart. They bought the music because, whilst they did not necessarily back the conflicts our politicians got us in to they most certainly do back our troops, to the hilt. This is just a way of showing that, making a bit of money for a good cause and at the same time kicking a number one making outfit in the proverbials.

With these women behind them you can see why our armed services are one of the few institutions in this country that make it still possible to include the word great in Great Britain.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

How silently how silently the wondrous gift is given!

Bit over the top perhaps but it is Christmas and I can’t help but think there something of a quiet revolution going on at Sincil Bank. David Holdsworth has a mind to public relations there’s no doubt about that but he goes about his business in an understated way, there’s none of the histrionics of Peter Jackson. He’s a southerner but there’s none of that barrow boy ‘ow’s yer father of Tilson and for that matter none of Keiths “they’ve ruined my weekend, I’ll ruin theirs” but the manager quietly goes about the business of transforming the little town of Lincoln, there I go again, into a footballing force that is at least on the map.

One thing I have noticed about Holdsworth and somehow this is evident in most of the good managers and that is a streak of eccentricity. Shankley, Clough, Mourinho, O’Neill and our own Colin Murphy, they all have that slightly bonkers aspect that seems to get them through the day. The world of the football manager is not the one the rest of us exist in although to read some of the comments made by some fans to articles in the newspapers and on the net you’d wonder if some people think they are but, rather like Liberal Democrats used to be when you have to put your theories into practice life is not always as simple as you think, as the bearded sandal wearers are finding out.

City have won just seven matches in the last twenty five but four of those have been in the last six weeks so perhaps Santa did come a little early, they sit at number eight in the home current form for the last eight games. Hardly earth shattering but a lot better than it was. Just to be on the safe side though I still put that note up the chimney and left out the mince pie and a wee dram on the hearth.

There’s the small matter of the turkey and any remaining present opening to come but once that’s out of the way two games I think we can now anticipate with a little more fervour, the double header against the Mariners. Thank you for continuing to log on to my blog and a Merry Christmas to Imps and football fans everywhere, even fishy ones - until Boxing Day.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Home for Christmas.

There’s a strange story on BBC Lincolnshire that Lincoln City’s players will be training at home on Christmas Day. This is dressed up to sound as if David Holdsworth is some kind of slave driver but don’t full time professional players normally go in to do a days training the day before a Boxing Day game? I’m sure I read that they would normally do that.

Holdsworth told the BBC he would know whether the players had carried out his instructions:-

“ I have to trust the players. They'll be given monitors to take home and be asked to do a certain amount of work.

"If they don't they'll be fined two weeks' wages and won't play. Is that hardline? I think it's professional."

"On Christmas Day do you want to come in? No, of course you don't," he said.

"But it's part of work. They'll be given a schedule and if they don't achieve that they'll be fined the maximum amount because they have a duty to the fans of the football club.

"The fans can know that win, lose or draw, we will have prepared correctly. It's a big game and I want us to compete in it."

That sounds like a fair deal to me although, presumably Mr Holdsworth will also spend Christmas Day in the bosom of his family, not that us fans will begrudge him that given the effort and commitment he is putting in, just saying.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Just in passing, City have improved.

I don’t know about you but when David Holdsworth became Lincoln City’s manager I thought we would have a return to the style of Keith Alexander if not John Beck even. Such was the clubs demise that I was ready to accept anything if it meant a return to winning ways. Home matches were a trial and away games merited a perfunctory glance at the score someway into the afternoon followed by final score or whatever just to double check the bad news. Attendance at an away game, once something to be contemplated several times a season, or even sitting in front of the TV for the afternoon was not really a consideration.

Now however I’m delighted to hear the manager eulogising on City’s passing game following the away win at Forest Green Rovers:-

"We passed the ball well and at time we were probably trying to be too perfect, but I'm encouraging that passing and movement and there were some very good attacking performances.

"Two-nil is still a tricky scoreline in this league because one goal can give the other side the impetus but I felt we managed those final minutes well.

"It's three games unbeaten now which is the most important thing for me and we've come here and done that against a side who haven't been beaten for a while."

Even better an opposing manager bemoaning the fact that the Imps have bagged all the points:-

"We shot ourselves in the foot, we're the architects of our own downfall. If you don't put your chances in the goal, you don't win games said Dave Hockaday, Rovers manager.

"We passed it around and gave them problems but then someone else made a silly mistake around our box and they put the second goal in.

"I can't have a go at the lads for a lack of effort, they gave it a really good go, but I think our inexperience has shown through in the last couple of games.

Now I wouldn’t want to tempt providence but City’s home form has all of a sudden considerably improved whilst the tactics centre on passing the football and retaining possession. Have our prayers been heard?

All of a sudden the big Boxing Day clash is starting to feel like something to be anticipated and relished especially with our fishy friends being on a bit of a roll themselves. They have shifted 1000 tickets so we really need to rouse our comatose home support to give them a verbal run for their money. After all there’s not much else to be done. Surely we’re all shopped out now?

Up close and personal. It’s Dee Time!

Jack Dee at the LPAC

When you consider the size of the venue, the fact that there was a warm up man and the pulling power of Jack Dee you do wonder how this show could have made a profit for such a well known and respected comedian. The answer lies in the nature of the performance. It was entitled “work in progress” and that’s what it was, a try out for much larger gigs. On this evidence Lincoln was fortunate indeed and needless to say the few available tickets were snapped up straight away.

Nevertheless, after Dee’s sitcom Lead Balloon featuring the hapless Rick Spleen, played by the man himself, a man who is eclipsed as a stand up comedian by his non performing co writer and with Jack Dee himself succinctly described by my mate Stewart as “a miserable sod” the audience, no doubt, like me were wondering what kind of stand up would be delivered. We needn’t have been concerned; the answer was side splittingly funny from the off. A lot of comedians will engage in a little light hearted mickey taking of the venue or area or both. Dee’s version was a masterclass in deadpan humour and timing.

The venue itself was changed from the usual set up. The stage was removed and seating was installed at the sides and at an angle to the performer giving a really intimate feel to an already enclosed performance area. We haven’t see too much of Jack Dee on TV lately but on this evidence he’s lost none of his timing and comic genius. The laughs rolled on for 70 or 80 minutes. For an encore he played a guitar and sang. The guitar didn’t work properly and it was just as funny as the rest of the show. Whether that was deliberate we may find out if we hear the routine again in front of thousands instead of a couple of hundred at the LPAC. One things for sure. It can’t be any better than the prototype.

Lincoln Performing Arts Centre. The front rows were removed and replaced  with seating around the performer. Picture taken from the LPAC website.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Festive Cheer but not festive weather please.

Manager David Holdsworth and Francis Laurent along with the rest of the squad paid a visit to the children’s ward at Lincoln County Hospital to deliver presents donated by the football club and Lincoln Cooperative Society to children that were going to have to spend Christmas away from home. I’m going to resist the temptation to say that makes a change from their usual largesse on the pitch. Oops I’ve said it now.

Talking of Laurent he was on BBC Lincolnshire this morning talking of his intent to stay in the team having got a foot in the door and with Jamie Taylor also returning to fitness there could be a whole new look to the strike force that has had such a stuttering first half of the season, Kyle Perry coming in for particular criticism from a section of the fans.

Taylor told the assembled press:-

"I have had a really frustrating season so far and it was certainly something I had not envisaged when I arrived here in the summer,"

"In fact prior to coming to Lincoln, I don't think I missed a game in two years and I had always been fortunate in terms of avoiding injuries.

"But as soon as I came here we had a friendly against Boston and I picked up a back injury which was hugely frustrating because you want to make an instant impression.

"Although I managed to sneak onto the bench for the game against Southport, I then picked up a knee injury after the game against Kettering.

"So when you take that all into account, it's not been the start I was hoping for, so you can imagine how nice it was for me to score two goals last week.

"I was not expecting to start, but the fact the gaffer put me in and I scored as well has given me plenty of confidence.

Taylor and Laurent played up front in the FA Trophy victory and the Echo is reporting the pair are expected to start against Forest Green Rovers who are expected to offer a sterner test than Colwyn Bay. Listening to BBC Lincolnshire last night it looks as if one position that has been puzzling the fans, goalkeeper, will sort itself out as Joe Anyon, who played against Bay is injured. Supporters have been wondering why it took until the Trophy clash before Anyon returned to the team. Had Anyon been fit we would have known a bit more of what Holdsworth thought of the pecking order in the stopper position. He sounded none too pleased at the situation to be honest so whether he doubts Anyons affliction is something we are just going to have to wonder about because the manager is not going to go public on that one. Paul Farman was cup tied so it wasn’t a question of Anyon forcing his way back in.

Laurent himself was a doubt as he had to have stitches as a result of a clash with Bay’s Lee McEvilly but he’s obviously made of sterner stuff having got into the side and won’t want to surrender his place.

Otherwise it’s as you were unless of course the weather intervenes. We could do with an away win in the league.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Lincolnshire this week

Illegal hooch is in the news again as trading standards have revealed about 2500 bottles of the stuff have been recovered across the East Midlands this year, 65% in Derby. It’s no laughing matter though as of course this is a problem also in the Boston area where five men lost their lives in an explosion whilst they were producing illegal vodka. Neither is it good news for consumers hoping for a bargain as the finished product has been known to contains some pretty iffy ingredients which have been known to cause serious injury including blindness.

Following those serious journalists on Top Gear carrying out an in depth investigation on the provision of power for electric cars in the city Lincoln City Council have announced that points for two cars have been installed on the top floor of Lucy Tower Street car park. Apart from paying to park the car however long it will take the electricity is free. We look forward to seeing the shy and retiring Jeremy Clarkson back in the area soon to announce to the Top Gear audience the councils foresight.

Lincoln Cathedral is the only such building to be placed on English Heritage’s at risk register. £13m needs to be raised over the next 10 years to pay for essential repairs and restoration. Great Tom, the main bell has only just been returned to use following parts of the mechanism having to be repaired by hand. English Heritage say the inclusion on the list will raise awareness of the Minster’s plight and assist fund raising.

The University of Lincoln hope to re introduce cricket to the Sobraon Barracks playing field. The uni have signed a 25 year lease and aim to host matches for it’s two cricket teams. Local schools will also get the chance to use the facility as well as the cricketers from the college who have been playing home games as far away as Welbeck Notts.

The recent public services strike in Lincolnshire has resulted in a boost but not in the way the organisers anticipated. Lincolnshire Echo reported that traders saw a considerable upturn in business. A spokesman for Lincolnshire Chamber of commerce said:

"An indirect result seems to be that last Wednesday was a better day for retailers as it has given some parents who have children off school the opportunity to go Christmas shopping, therefore a potential benefit to the economy.

"This may just be timing, in that they will buy now rather than closer to Christmas, but this is likely to be a comfort to cash flow at this time."

Barry Reeves, chairman of Sincil Street Traders, in Lincoln, who runs the Central Snacks cafe on the market, said: "Can we have another strike soon?

"By going on strike, they turned last Wednesday into a bumper day of trade."It couldn't have come at a better time."

Finally and again from the Echo, ten places to make the most of Christmas in Lincoln:-

1) Carols at Lincoln Cathedral.

2) The Lincoln Whisky Shop

3) Stokes High Bridge Café

4) Panto, Lincoln Theatre Royal.

5) Lincoln Cornhill Craft Market ,Cornhill.

6) Birdy’s Boutique, off High Street

7) Jews House Restaurant.

8) The Journey, Lincoln Castle, Nativity Play.

9) The Cheese Society.

10) Marks and Spencer.

Not long to go now to the big day. Enjoy your preparations wherever you are. It’s never the same after Christmas.

                            A not very Christmassy Stokes, picture from Lincolnshire Echo

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Thoroughly modern filth-Sarah Millican at the Engine Shed

Maybe it’s because it’s delivered by a woman and a diminutive one at that but there’s something especially naughty about seeing Sarah Millican live. The men in the audience in particular are treated to a glimpse into the bike shed of a North East all girls comprehensive and boy can those lasses swear!

As Sarah says, she really likes swearing and can’t do it on the telly. Well she made up for it on the Lincoln leg of her sell out tour at the Engine Shed last night when she had a packed audience in stitches as she regaled us with hilarious stories of girlie foibles, the contest that is daily life in a relationship and the Millican family in all their bonkers glory.

La Millican didn’t hold back on the sort of material that in some comedians hands would be really beyond the pale but some how it was delivered with such an innocence and of course in that charming Geordie accent that is made for comedy it was just, well, funny.

We weren’t expecting an encore, I’m sure there wasn’t one, unusually for a comedy act, at her last appearance in Lincoln at the Drill Hall but return she did last night and she was well prepared with some new jokes to try out which she had written down on a piece of paper and which she marked according to whether they hit the mark or not. Needless to say they did.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Hibernian v Rangers, Easter Road, Edinburgh, 10/12/11

A club who have been through umpteen managers in the last few years, punching well below their weight, their latest boss has been pleading for the fans to get behind the team and show some support. No, not Lincoln City, Hibernian. Hibs should really be pushing the likes of champions elect Rangers and Celtic all the way to the end of the season. Instead they sit dangerously close to the trapdoor, once again. Their bitter but impecunious Edinburgh rivals, Hearts are doing somewhat better despite the fact that the Jambo’s don’t seem to be paying their players, not much anyway.

One reason for this lack of success lies in the gate, just 11380 to see Hibs take on the best side in Scotland, Rangers. They predictably filled their end, eventually, the lure of the pub besting the desire to see the start of the game which was a pity as the Gers started off like a train, passing Hibs off the park for five minutes but not threatening the home side’s goal.

                                           Gers fans did get there.................


Gradually the home team began to realise that they could compete with their illustrious opponents and started to do what an underdog should, get into their faces but for all the pressure could not get the all important first goal as Paul Hanlon and then Leigh Griffiths failed to find the net when presented with scoring opportunities, Griffiths tamely shooting at Rangers keeper Allan McGregor in a period when, if anything Hibs looked as if they could take the game.

In the second half again, decent pressure from the Edinburgh side but then Rangers were awarded a penalty, which Nikica Jelavic duly converted and the same player was on hand to score from a corner eight minutes later. A further chance was spurned with ten minutes to go and after that there was no way back for the home team which was a bit of an injustice as for long periods Hibernian bossed the match and could have pulled off a shock.

As it was, Rangers carried on their imperious course towards the SPL title, doing what good teams do. Winning whilst not particularly playing well. In the case of Hibernian whilst there was sunshine on Leith, for quite some time, in the end it was sorrow, sorrow, sorrow, sorrow, Hibs hearts were broken. Let’s hope that, as in the Proclaimers song, which the Hibees have adopted and from which these words were taken in case you thought I was even more off my trolley than usual, that tears will be drying come April.

                   Edinburgh, a fantastic city and a brilliant weekend for me. But not for a Hibee.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Lincolnshire this week.

Last weekend we had the Lincoln Christmas Market. This week we have the inquest. It was too successful! 200000 people squeezed into the Castle Square area over the four day market prompting complaints that it was overcrowded. The City Council are pondering whether the event could take place over a longer period or over a greater area although it would be hard to see where. Still it’s better to have problems of this nature than the problem of last year, cancellation due to the weather.

The Red Arrows have been cleared to fly again after a safety review following the latest tragedy but mystery still surrounds the exact cause of the accident caused by an ejector seat malfunction. However the Ministry of Defence have now said that the Hawk T1’s can resume flying without restrictions.

A charity for the homeless operating in Lincolnshire has received counterfeit clothing seized by customs or trading standards. Instead of destroying the dud labels the outfits are re-labelled with the name of the charity, His Church and distributed to homeless people. The latest consignments are Tommy Hilfiger fakes which were bought in good faith by a French supermarket. The dupe was soon discovered but instead of ditching the jeans they have been given to the needy. Charity coordinator Richard Humphrey told the BBC His Church had persuaded British Trading Standard authorities to hand over 90% of goods confiscated to the charity:-

"It's all come round in a virtuous circle," says Richard. "It's a genuinely inspired idea which we've put into practice by faith and it's just borne fruit."

It’s been revealed that a Lincolnshire chippie is producing some of the healthiest fish and chips in the country. Kingfisher Food’s mobile trailer which operates from Bassingham and Skellingthorpe’s village hall car parks serves food which research has shown to be 93.5% fat free.

Mick O'Carroll, a partner in Kingfisher said: "The saturates in our fish, chips and mushy peas are only 20 per cent of the average portion tested by the lab.

Local bus provider, Stagecoach has revealed a fall of 18% in its profits due to a loss at its East Midlands Trains franchise. The group, which runs buses in Lincoln and other parts of the county still managed to make a healthy £88.7 million profit though which will mystify residents on the coast who have seen their evening service to Skegness discontinued for the winter due to a loss of subsidy from Lincolnshire County Council. Locals from one of the poorest areas of the country, many unable to afford a car now find themselves hibernating until spring brings a resumption of the service. Ingoldmells resident Dawn Watson told BBC Lincolnshire:-

"This week I wanted to take the children to see the live reindeer in Skegness but I will have to rush back to make sure I get the last bus as we can't afford the taxi fares."

Having sold their car as they could not afford it the family thought they would be able to rely on public transport.

"There are a lot of low income families around here and a lot of people feel trapped in their homes in the winter. We feel as if we have been left behind," she said

Finally two Gainsborough Police Community Support Officers have been inspired by Matt Bakers epic Edinburgh To London rickshaw ride and have persuaded colleagues to cycle with them to Lincoln to take part in the annual Santa Fun Run. Chris Pearson and Penny Smith rode part of Matt Baker’s route with him through Lincolnshire . Following the 17 mile trip to Lincoln the five strong police team will be donning their Santa suits this weekend and are saying to Gainsborough residents “let’s be ‘avin’ yer!” They will be raising cash for a number of local charities – including the British Heart Foundation, Samaritans and St Andrew’s Children’s Hospice in Grimsby.

Whether you’ll be out and about or keeping by the fire, have a good weekend.

David Holdsworth reveals he is not a history student.

If he was he wouldn’t have told the Echo’s Leigh Curtis Lincoln City could win the FA Trophy. In any case, City don’t have a trophy cabinet do they? Even if they did it’s probably got some other use by now.

Yes, it’s the FA Trophy this weekend when the Imps will travel to Colwyn Bay in what Leigh describes as a potential banana skin. That’s more realistic. Holdsworth was asked if our hapless heroes could win it:-

"Absolutely. Of course we can win it," said the City supremo

"We will go out to do as well as we can in the trophy.

"I did very well at Ilkeston in it and the Mansfield squad I put together last season reached the final, but were beaten by Darlington.

"Cup games are so important and you have to fire yourself up for them.

"You have to play the occasion as well as the game.

"But we will be seen as a big scalp by Colwyn Bay and we will need to be very professional.

"We are looking forward to going there and making sure that we are still in the hat at least.

"The fans will get a buzz out of it because four games in and you are in the semi-final, one game away from the mighty Wembley."

That’s what we like to hear, misplaced optimism without a nod to the fact that, for a club formed to win the Lincolnshire Cup, City have barely troubled the second round of most competitions. I really hope I’m tempting providence here, we could do with something to take our minds off the drudgery of the league.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Taxi for Lincoln.

As predicted it was a desperately poor showing of Imps fans, just 1722 home supporters in the ground as Luton embarrassed us with a healthy 327 on a cold night at Sincil Bank, just pushing the gate over 2000. The irony is home form has been decent over the last couple of games and if people can’t turn out for the likes of Luton Town you do wonder when the enthusiasm is going to return.

Having said the above these are thin times and for much of this game it did look as if recent home points gathering was going to grind to a halt after Luton somehow got the ball into the net courtesy of Danny Crow and proceeded to deny City an equaliser as our heroes laboured in vain with an ineffectual attack which just could not seem to be able to hold on to the ball long enough to score.

It was all change at half time as the struggling Kyle Perry failed to reappear for the second half, replaced by the lively Francis Laurent and finally things started to happen for the home team and it was a deserved goal when it came as Richard Hinds headed in Conal Platt’s cross. Could City go on to win? Well it certainly looked as if they might as referee Richard Clark dished out card after card and as night followed day Lawless saw red or rather two yellows although it was a surprise it was not Hand as his discipline was all over the place. In any event he duly obliged as the game came to an end and Luton finished with nine players. Strangely it wasn’t that sort of game but the two Luton players really gave the ref no option with some stupid fouls.

All in all a satisfactory night although we were, of course hoping for a win but to come back the way they did and bearing in mind the quality of the opposition we can’t be too disappointed with a point that raises City one place up the table. If only the home form could be replicated away City could still have a decent season but it is far too late to think in terms of any prizes. For now survival is the more pressing concern.

Of particular note, Gowling is now playing really well and thoroughly deserved his man of the match accolade; he’s dovetailing with Richard Hinds in the centre of defence which looked solid apart from that car crash of a goal. Alan Power and Simon Russell also providing plenty of exciting play although Russell was replaced by Jamie Taylor on 58 minutes, Taylor having a spirited time getting amongst the Hatters.

All in all, well worth turning out on a cold December night, hint hint.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Last chance before Christmas.

Of a home win that is, we don’t play again at Sincil Bank until Grimsby Town visit on Boxing Day. Looking at twitter and the general views on the Echo’s web pages fans are a bit subdued as to the Imps chances. Home form has improved though so; despite Luton Town’s far loftier position in the table surely no reason for such pessimism. Perhaps when I read this in the morning I’ll know differently.

Josh O’Keefe has now had his name circulated for loan. That’s not particularly hot news but I certainly haven’t mentioned it. I didn’t really share my fellow fans distain at O’Keefe’s efforts but clearly the manager concurs with those who thought he shouldn’t be in the team. I think it’s as much to do with wages as anything but I will agree, like most of the former team he has struggled with this league. For a club who have no cash at all there certainly has been a comprehensive clear out.

One thing I’ll be looking out for tonight, and I know there will be others along from my seat who will also be mindful and that’s the gate. It’s quite possible in my view that the attendance could fall below the psychological 2000 barrier and that would be very damaging indeed. Having said that the last time gates dropped so low as far as I’m aware was in John Beck’s time and the team did go on to, not only get out of trouble but eventually get promoted although Beck had departed by then. I hope I’m wrong.

Saturdays defeat at Newport marked the halfway stage of the league programme. What do you think of it so far? That was a rhetorical question. It’s been rubbish we all know that. We hope it will get better but then it’s possible to get worse. Must be the weather making me so low.

David Holdsworth will choose from an unchanged squad with no new injury worries according to, whether he will play the same side as Saturday will become apparent in a few hours time. Wrap up warm.

Monday, 5 December 2011

City slumber party goes on.

Despite the team staying overnight in Wales, courtesy of the Lincolnshire Echo, City slipped to yet another loss away from home as Newport claimed the points with a one nil win, the goal coming in slightly dubious fashion, Danny Rose appearing to run straight into Richard Hinds and going to ground. Referee Karl Evans not only fell for that but booked Hinds for his trouble. Needless to say from the resulting free kick Ismail Yakubu netted.

To be honest, I really thought this was three points for the Imps but our away woes continue. At least the home form has shown some improvement and this will be tested tomorrow when Luton Town are the visitors to Sincil Bank. This wearisome season drags on. I don’t know about you but it’s a struggle to keep up the enthusiasm although in fact tomorrow is the last home game before the Christmas clash with the Mariners. Hopefully the Imps home form will continue with that fixture and send us into the new year with renewed hope.

Despite the loss David Holdsworth was positive about the prospects for the team, well he would be wouldn’t he? Holdsworth was on BBC Lincolnshire this morning in positive mood. After the game he told the assembled press:-

"We dominated 70% of the game so I'm pleased with the effort and the way we went about it.

"We came here and set up right and they haven't really undone us at all but one slip in the final third has cost us and really it was the only thing Newport contributed to the game.”

Luton next then, sixth in the table which will give City’s resurgent home form its sternest test. We could do with something from the game as the bottom six is not a comfortable place to be.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The latest news on the Newport fixture is………

……..That David Holdsworth is not giving anything away as to whether he will change things around for this game. He named an unchanged team for York (and look where that got us) but has plenty of options for a bit of a change round with Francis Laurent, Nicky Nicolau, Jamie Taylor, Luke Medley and Mitchell Nelson all pushing for a place along with Jean Francois Christophe who was on the bench last Tuesday.

Sam Smith and Andy Hutchinson are injured still. One would suppose if anyone is looking over their shoulder it might be Kyle Perry, hauled off at York and largely ineffective against Ebbsfleet although Holdsworth may not agree as Perry completed 90 minutes plus injury time in that game. Perry was revealed as a closet musician this morning on BBC Lincolnshire as singer and guitarist with beat combo Stubblemelt who are on said station tonight as part of the BBC introducing programme. He will be hoping that is not his swansong as of course David Holdsworth does have form when it comes to dispensing with Perry’s services.

Newport occupy an even lowlier position in the table than City although they did achieve a 4.0 win at Hayes and Yeading on Tuesday so if anyone thought that here were three easy points for the taking clearly Newport have other ideas.

City are in Wales tonight having had their overnight stay sponsored by the Lincolnshire Echo. The club are also indebted to Birmingham City who allowed the team to break their journey and do an hours training at their facility. Clearly our manager has friends in high places.

Lincolnshire this week

It’s that time again and after the heartache not to mention the financial losses that followed its cancellation last year the Lincoln Christmas Market swung into action on Thursday. The now traditional curtain raiser to the festive season is back bigger and better than ever with everyone determined to make up for the loss of last years market, victim of the snow and arctic temperatures. The City centre was packed, even on the first day usually the day when the locals visit the extravaganza.

Wednesday’s strike by public sector workers organised by the TUC brought a touch of the seventies to Lincoln with a march by striking workers starting at Tentercroft Street and heading up the High Street to the Drill Hall. Across the county about 100 schools and academies were closed according to the Lincolnshire Echo. The marchers did not have it all their own way though with the Echo reporting that pensioner Christine Wearing ran towards the marchers shouting “get back to work!”

Mrs Wearing told the Echo “I think this is disgusting. They earn enough money. Personally I get very little pension which is nothing to what these lot will get.”

Now here’s something for all you yellowbellies living in faraway places. Looking at my stats you’re in the USA, Russia, Germany, China, France, India, the Netherlands, Indonesia and Ireland not to mention the UK. The Lincolnshire Echo has produced a list of the ten best pubs in Lincolnshire. If you’ve been away a while you’ll know some but not others. Here they are: The Chequers Inn, Woolsthorpe by Belvoir. I know this one and it’s only just in Lincs. The Jolly Brewer, Lincoln. The Railway Tavern, Aby. Thornton Hunt Inn, Thornton Curtis, Ulceby. Dogma, Lincoln. The Tobie Norris, Stamford. The Village Limits, Woodhall Spa. Bar 67, Lincoln. The Kings Head, Tealby and The Wheatsheaf Inn, Hubberts, Bridge Boston.

Bring back any memories? You won’t find Watneys Red Barrel any more!

Finally the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s autumn statement brought an unexpected ray of light amongst all the doom and gloom when George Osborne announced that the stalled Eastern Bypass bid was back on the agenda having been quietly put on the back burner a while back. Local worthies had an inkling that we may be back in favour but we were all surprised to find work is expected to begin in a couple of years time to extend the bypass from its present terminus at Bunkers Hill to Bracebridge Heath.

There are a couple of downsides though. In order to get the road on the rota the proposed dual carriageway highway has had to be downgraded to single which is a ridiculous state of affairs for an urban conurbation well in excess of 100000 now. The second problem is that it will still not be a ring road so the problems of traffic seeking rat runs in places like Hykeham, Waddington, Harmston, Aubourn and Haddington will get much much worse.

Traffic on the single carriageway sections of the existing Western bypass is already at a standstill for much of the day and, again this will worsen. In due course, as is the case at Teal Park, developers will be prevailed upon to chip in to fund dualling but I don’t think I’ll see a ring road of dual carriageway standard in my lifetime. Quite why we’re treated like this is anyone’s guess but of course others, Bostonians for example will point to the fact that at least we have something.

When I travel to supposedly third world countries like Spain and Portugal and see the roads they have I do wonder sometimes. Have a good week whatever part of the globe you’re in.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

It’s Listen to BBC Local Radio Day today.

I have to admit I’d stopped listening to BBC Local Radio myself, for one reason or another but I didn’t find anywhere else that I felt at home.

There’s some great stuff on Radio 4 but my listening is limited to when I’m in the car, so 7.30 to 8.30 in the morning and 5 to 6 in the evening. I found the confrontation a bit much so I tried Radio 2. Chris Evans is a great broadcaster and I did enjoy it but then I got interested in the charity bike marathon from Lincoln’s twin town, Neustadt back to Lincoln by Rod Whiting, Louise Wheeler and the Echo's John Pakey and I was gripped. Sure the reporting might not have been up to the standard of the big national stations but the more I listened the more I became engaged again.

Now there’s a threat to local radio on the BBC who have to save money and they are proposing more sharing with neighbouring stations. The point of local radio though is that it’s for us, the locals. Once you start sharing you lose that, I may as well go back to the other stations but the thing I’ve found is I really don’t want to.

Local radio really comes in to it’s own in the winter, when the weather’s bad or when there’s something big on, like the Christmas Market. Or as was the case last year, both. Reporting of things like that is best done locally. How can a presenter give a feel for something they’ve never been to? They can’t.

I started off thinking I would just put a word or two together just to mention the day but I realise writing this how much our local BBC station means to me and it means a lot to others too. Programmes coming from Hull or Nottingham are all very well but that’s not local radio, it’s local-ish radio. Make some savings elsewhere. Here’s a suggestion. As soon as a BBC personality starts to demand a seven figure salary, show them the way to ITV and look at promoting from within. Without naming names I can think of at least two BBC Lincolnshire presenters that could make the grade at a higher level. There, that’s saved a substantial amount of money. Can we have our BBC Local Radio back now please?