Andrew Abbott's Blog

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

One out. Three in. (Plus another)

After the departure of Gavin McCallum David Holdsworth has move quickly to use up the freed resources before anyone else gets their hands on them.

First came ex Mariner Peter Bore, described by as a utility player. He was voted Mariners player of the season as recently as 2009/10.

Next came Jefferson Louis, cousin of Richard Pacquette, another prolific scorer.

Finally, another Louis, Louis Almond,a forward has joined on loan from Blackpool. In addition Paul Robson has now signed on permanently, to the end of the season which is about as permanent as things get at Sincil Bank these days.

Outwards goes defender Matthew Peason, recalled by Blackburn. They probably need him more than we do.

Presumably that’s it but nothing is certain for Imps at the moment.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Speculation over

With the news that Gavin McCallum has departed Lincoln City. No more pay offs we were told but presumably that is exactly what has happened.

I suspect we will never get to know the full story.

One lost, one missing.

The mini revival, such as it was, is over and that flat feeling returns, City unable to gain anything from the visit to Irthlingborough, temporary home to Kettering Town. Talking of temporary, those points may be returned if the Poppies are unable to see out their fixtures although that would be scant consolation and as football fans we wouldn’t want to see that fate befall another club.

Yet another penalty, this time Richard Pacquette the miscreant, a little harsh those who were present believed and a lot harsh thought Pacquette. The Imps did not possess the fire power to convert the chances created although Joe Anyon was doing his valiant best to avoid any further falling behind.

David Holdsworth was typically forthright. He told BBC Lincolnshire:-

"I'm disappointed and shocked. I can't believe we're going home with nothing after the chances we've created.

"I felt it was a soft penalty against us and I felt we should have had one for a foul on Richard Pacquette.

"We needed a bit more quality, the will was there but the end product was clearly missing. Kettering defended stoutly but we must rue those missed chances

"The attitude was right and the set-up was right, you can't take any team lightly and we certainly didn't, but if you keep missing chances it can cost you and it did.

No midweek game this week so we can indulge ourselves in speculation as to Gavin McCallum’s situation. At a time when City are painfully short up front, McCallum, Holdsworth told the BBC, was at home. Clearly the player is not in the managers plans for the future, Holdsworth confirmed that much. Further attempts by the BBC’s reporter to elicit information were met with one word answers, usually no.

Is this the price the player is paying for that misdemeanour the other week? Josh Gowling seems to have rehabilitated himself and Joe Anyon, whatever he did, is back in the team and earning praise from his manager for his attitude. Is attitude the problem with McCallum, as far as the manager is concerned? Chances are we won’t get an answer to that one, not much of one anyway.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Imps hoping to deny Poppy appeal.

The phrase “ always someone worse off than yourself” can often be hard to reconcile when you’re an Imp but in Kettering’s case they are. One of the few sides below City, fourth from bottom, the Poppies are in a precarious position. This can be said in the case of their finances too.

Whereas our much maligned Chairman, together with other board members, to coin a phrase much used by fans “put his hand in his pocket” Kettering continue to wallow in financial uncertainty. That’s not to say that the Imps are exactly out of the woods yet but the fans have been digesting and speculating on this weeks news that the club and in particular said chairman believe a move away from Sincil Bank is the way to permanently sort out City’s traditional Achilles heel, finance.

Back to Kettering for a moment, they moved grounds themselves,to the rather splendid Nene Park, which many Imps will remember as a very pleasant environment, particularly the night when City were huffing and puffing against Rushden and Diamonds, to not much effect, when a certain Mr Drewe Broughton engineered a sending off for himself. City then went on to win.

Kettering’s move was not the sort of orderly relocation to a much more business friendly environment envisaged by City and their financial situation seems to the outsider, if anything worse than it was before.

After a dreadful Christmas and early new year City treated what few fans who could be bothered to turn up to a considerably improved performance against Southport running out two-nil winners, Richard Pacquette netting yet again, in spectacular fashion. With the defence holding water for a change, Gowling and Williams doing well in the middle and Anyon in sparkling form between the sticks, a rare clean sheet to savour too, fans will be hoping for a repeat at leafy Irthlingborough.

It’s not all good news, City’s horrendous injury problems continue, particularly up front with Sam Smith, only just back, in a plaster cast and he is not expected to feature again this season. On the plus side Danny Lloyd gave us an all action display that will endear him to the supporters. He’s not exactly Lionel Messi but his pace and industry will surely unsettle many a defender at this level.

It’s been a season of ups and downs so far, so some consistency would go a long way to settling the nerves and with some much more winnable games coming up City will be hoping for a better win ratio from the remaining fixtures. To see Sincil Bank as empty as it was on Tuesday night is dispiriting for the players, fans and of course the board of directors who can see the playing budget being drained still further unless interest in the team picks up. A nice away win would help.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Lincolnshire this week.

The University of Lincoln has announced that it will have 700 less places to offer in the future. The 11% reduction in numbers is due to funding cuts. The Uni has declared that it will charge the maximum £9000 tuition fees in 2012. They will work closely with Lincoln College and North Lindsey College to try to accommodate students unsuccessful in their applications.

Fuel tanker drivers in North Lincolnshire are to stage a two week strike in response to their employers, Wincanton attempting to reduce their remuneration. The drivers say this will see them lose 20% in their pay packets. Wincanton say the action will put jobs at risk and is “wholly unnecessary”.

The Grantham Journal has been recalling the time Laurel and Hardy visited the town. The comedy legends checked in to the Red Lion in 1947 before making their way to Barkston where Stan Laurel had a reunion with his father who he had last seen thirteen years previously. The Journal did not report how long it took for him to return, if indeed he ever did.

The proposed High Speed 2 railway project is to be discussed at a meeting of East Lincolnshire Green Party in Louth. A quick glance at the map confirmed that this project is peripheral to East Lincs to say the least but the sandal wearers (or is that the Liberals?) meeting in the delightful sounding Café Rico in Pawnshop Passage are asking :-

“Are you worried that the government is planning to spend £32 billion on a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham at a time when budgets are being cut and we’re all feeling the pinch? Or are you excited at the proposed project and the advantages it might bring? Come along and share your opinions (we won’t bite...!)

An application has been submitted to build a new £600,000 bird observatory at Huttoft near Sutton on Sea. The plans, by Lincolnshire County Council and Arts Council England are part of a scheme to create a country park along five miles of coastline between Sandilands and Chapel St Leonards. The new building will be glass fronted and feature a café, visitor centre and watch tower.

Casting for the Lincoln Mystery Plays is due to begin soon and preparatory work is well underway for the production due to start this July. Weekly workshops are expected to begin shortly and are to be held at Bishop Grossteste University College.

Lincolnshire hockey players Crista Cullen and Georgie Twigg are competing in the last ranking tournament before the Olympic Games this summer. The Great Britain team hopefuls will be at the Women’s Champion’s Trophy in Argentina.

Brayford eyesore, the former Harbourmasters office is to be transformed in to Japanese eatery Wagamama according to the Lincolnshire Echo. The national chain is being coy about the exact location but the derelict former office would provide an enticing venue for a restaurant. Wagamama will only confirm they are in negotiation to open on the waterfront somewhere.

Sayonara from me for another week. Have a good weekend wherever you are.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Southport grounded by second half rocquette.

Yesterday Southport manager Liam Watson expressed the wish that his team would “start off nice and bright”. Seven minutes into last nights game at Sincil Bank his team were on the ropes as Jean-Francois Christophe powerfully headed in John Nutter’s cross and the Imps rarely looked back although they should have added to their tally long before Richard Pacquette’s piledriver finished Southport off just before the hour.

It was Josh Gowling and Joe Anyon who particularly took the eye in a good rather than spectacular Imps performance. Gowling took the man of the match award with Anyon snapping at his heels making several crucial saves to preserve an uncharacteristic clean sheet for the home side.

In Richard Pacquette Imps manager David Holdsworth knew he had a goal scorer but the trick for City is going to be holding on to this wandering striker. Let’s not be too pessimistic though, Davide Somma provided the goals that kept City in the league before and Holdsworth will be hoping that, whilst his team are far from the finished article Pacquette having got off to a blistering start with three goals in two games, he should go a long way to securing City’s league position and could even spark off a revival in the future. Fending off the moneybags is another matter altogether though and with only just over 1600 in attendance last night the club must be losing money at an alarming rate.

Holdsworth was naturally delighted to give the home fans something to shout about:-

“There are still things we can improve on and we must stay focused, but in the context of playing against a side who are having a very good season, that makes it all the sweeter.

"But the game should have been out of sight. 2-0 is a horrible scoreline but I felt we played well, we were dogged, we were rugged and we didn't allow Southport any momentum. We were solid and there are areas we can improve on but we'll take the points.

"I know what Richard Pacquette's strengths are and he led the line admirably. He's a great character and he also has a maturity and I'm delighted I brought him to the club and I think the fans have seen what a quality player he is.

Unfortunately things may not be so rosy in the case of Sam Smith who was forced off just before half time. He may be out for the rest of the season. Talking of the rest of the season a few more horrible scorelines would fit the bill nicely for success starved Imps.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Bob’s got grounds for optimism.

These last few years, even when the team were doing well and gates were good Lincoln City somehow didn’t seem to have the financial muscle to really compete with the supposed big spenders.

Yesterdays press conference, called to explain the new investment coming into the club also touched on the likelihood that the club will at least have to consider moving in order to progress.

First things first though and the money coming in is to ensure that the football club can continue to operate in the short to medium term, something that fans had very much on their minds what with everything else going on in the game, Darlington in particular.

Once the ship has been steadied, chairman Bob Dorrian stated the board will have to consider how to move forward:-

"The stadium isn't really fit for the modern day. We have no facilities to derive any commercial income from the ground.

"I would like to think something will be on the table within the next four years. The long-term plan is to make the club attractive to investors."

A ground move is always an emotive thing for such a traditional sport as football but, as far as Dorrian is concerned things can’t stay as they are:-

"At the end of February we may have been in a position, if things had stayed as they were, where our March payroll would have been in jeopardy,"

City have more pressing concerns though and fans will be wondering if the unexpected fightback last Saturday might produce an upturn in fortunes starting with tonight’s fixture against Southport. The recent slump has blunted what minor heart the pre Christmas form had engendered as City hit the buffers over the holiday period. With the weather in Lincoln this morning being what can only be described as dire, fans will be hoping for something to banish the mid winter blues.

Southport manager Liam Watson has other ideas though. He told BBC Radio Merseyside:-

"We played them on the opening day of the season and I thought we were unlucky only to get a point.

"It's a bit of a trek on a Tuesday night but I'm sure we'll go out and give a good account of ourselves like we did on Saturday.

"Against Luton we started off nice and bright and that's the way we've got to go about it against Lincoln.

With City manager David Holdsworth turning his attention to the strike force, having already secured the services of Richard Pacquette , home fans will be hoping for something to get them on their feet tonight and that Southport will find it even more of a trek on the way home.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Joined up thinking.

Monday’s news that Lincoln has not been included in a report on the effect of the recession on British cities is tiresome but really no surprise.

Lincoln is regarded nationally as a small place and a look at the population would seem to confirm this although finding an accurate official population figure on the net is far from easy but, lets say the population is between 85000-90000. It doesn’t seem that small but to the government it is. The magic figure would appear to be 100000 and that was the figure mentioned when Lincoln twice, by invitation, applied for Lord Mayor Status. When Chester and then Exeter were awarded that honour it was stated that really a city was thought to have to be over that threshold in order to qualify.

The irony is that Lincoln is indeed over that threshold in all but name, surely this setback ought to be the catalyst to do something about it and the good news is, it’s been done before. So how do you make a place bigger? Well you can’t but what you can do is to recognise reality. Drive from Lincoln to Hykeham and there is no break in the built environment. The same could be said for Washingborough, Bracebridge Heath and Waddington and to a slightly lesser extent Nettleham and Skellingthorpe and with just a little licence Saxilby Harmston and Heighington. If that is a little far fetched for you consider the City of Peterborough where the city boundary extends to the outskirts of Stamford. If you add those adjacent and adjoining settlements on you reach a population for Lincoln of something like 130000.

Residents of these areas will argue the case for separate identity but this latest indignity actually sets all of us back. Would we have so much trouble getting new infrastructure, park and ride, problems with the railway etc etc if it was recognised that the city was the large centre of population that it is? The city has moved it’s boundaries before and surely now is the time to do so again in everyone’s interest. Hykeham will remain Hykeham, Washingborough will still be Washingborough only this way we might actually get something done instead of being regarded as insignificant little Lincoln. Who knows? We might even get a Lord Mayor!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Imps discover a new secret weapon – and he didn’t cost a Pacquette.

Do you remember the days when you would come home from a Lincoln City match rosy cheeked and hoarse having watched City put one over some expensively assembled outfit? Peterborough comes to mind. That Wimbledonesque “we don’t care” attitude?

At the start of the season the Imps were the giants to be brought down a peg or two but that notion was soon dispelled as they were exposed for the paupers that they are. On Saturday afternoon City were heading for another blank weekend, 3.1 down and a man sent off and not long to go against a team that were odds on to win despite losing the Sincil Bank away game. Did a familiar face peer down through the clouds? Was he wearing a baseball cap and yellow socks? It felt like those days again.

It had started well. New boy, the much travelled Richard Pacquette put City in the lead after just six minutes but as on so many occasions before it then began to go pear shaped.

On twitter those at Gateshead and those in Lincoln were venting their ire. Another humiliation. Then Pacquette got his second. Game on. Better a noble defeat than where we had been minutes before but there was more, on 87 minutes Sam Smith broke Gateshead’s hearts and mended City’s. It felt like a win, just like the old days.

A breathless, not to mentioned relieved David Holdsworth felt his side showed some of the attributes he was looking for after a barren spell of late including that awful cup exit:-

“There was a lot of passion out there and I'm delighted to come here and gain a valuable point, but both managers went through a lot of ups and downs today.

"We do a lot of research and analysis of our opposition but today I had to write only one word on the board - 'character'. Over the season the players' character has been called into question and I felt we showed a lot today.

"Going 3-1 down, they showed unbelievable passion. Our dressing room's come alive tonight and I'm very pleased with that."

Well we were all very pleased and we would be even more pleased with some more points on Tuesday when, hopefully home fans can get a look at City’s new package, sorry Pacquette.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Welcome to our world

Cold uninspiring and dark. Another week in Impdom. The weather hasn’t been too good either. Two truly awful football matches, a mini demonstration and dumped out of a tin pot cup competition by a team most of us had hardly heard of. There must be other interests we could follow surely?

In between the games we had a rare bit of good news but was it a case of too little too late? Various large shareholders including beleaguered chairman Bob Dorrian have stumped up an additional £500,000 investment to keep the Imps afloat. One can only wonder whether that sort of cash injection when the team was riding high in league two might have propelled Lincoln City to promotion and in doing so steered the Imps away from danger. We have been told that relegation cost the club £1 million. Half a million to save a million sounds a good deal but we shouldn’t be too churlish about the investment that has been made. After all the powers that be at Lincoln City are hardly in the Abramovitch mould and this sort of commitment takes some finding even for the relatively well off.

A final point before we actually discuss some football, the new investment comes hand in hand with a restructuring but, this being Lincoln City, past masters at putting the cart before the horse, we have not had that explained except to say the club will now be governed via a holding company. All of this sounds a bit scary particularly in the week Darlington almost went out of business but it’s no secret that the Imps have struggled to attract investment, Dorrian explaining on BBC Lincolnshire that an investor coming in and paying over the not inconsequential sum of £75000 under the present regime will “not get much bang for his buck”. The inference being and it’s a fair point, a community club is all very well but people cannot be expected to commit large sums to come on the board only to have a very diluted say on the direction the club takes.

Now where were we? Football, that’s right. In a week when City gave new meaning to the expression underperforming, who better to play than fourth in the table Gateshead? Leaving aside the thought that a year ago who amongst us would be quaking at the prospect of playing Newcastle’s near neighbours? Francis Laurent is doubtful as is Jamie Taylor and Tony Sinclair who awaits an operation on an injured ankle. A rare chance to achieve a home and away double, the Imps having defeated Gateshead 1.0 at Sincil Bank back in September.

Goalkeeper Adam Smith has been recalled by Leicester City after sitting on the bench as an unused substitute three times, Joe Anyon having finally forced his way into David Holdsworth’s good books although whether he will continue to be so regarded after Wednesdays howler is something we shall find out in due course.

Lincolnshire this week.

Two local pantomimes have broken box office records showing Lincolnshire folk have regained their appetite for uncomplicated family fun at Christmas time.

As reported earlier in this blog the ever popular Cannon and Ball in Cinderella at the Theatre Royal, Lincoln have played to all time high audiences and now the Embassy, Skegness have announced that their Christmas offering, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves has also raised attendances by 40% on last years figures and have recorded their best ever figures this year, being watched by over 9000 people.

Let’s be ‘avin’ yer news of the police and two Lincolnshire officers have been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office. They are now suspended. A third officer arrested at the same time has now been released. These charges normally relate to a serious abuse of power or responsibilities, BBC Lincolnshire reported.

Wragby swimming pool has been given a reprieve after donations were received which will enable the facility to function until at least March but after that the future is uncertain. Fundraisers are hoping to keep going and a music concert is planned but of course what is really needed is a lot more swimmers. The phrase use it or lose it comes to mind.

Talking of leisure activities East Lindsey District Council is hoping to turn Mablethorpe into a more northerly version of Southwold by investing £90000 in new and revamped beach huts on South Promenade. Beach huts are one of those things, like allotments that have suddenly come back in to fashion and the council hope the tidied up area will address the problems of vandalism and decay that have blighted the sea front.

A memorial to legendary Lincoln City manager, Keith Alexander and much loved midfielder Richard Butcher, both lost tragically young, has been unveiled by their widows in a ceremony at Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank Stadium. About 200 relatives, friends and team mates watched as the curtain was drawn back. In a week that has seen a £500,000 lifeline investment in the club a reminder that football is not the be all and end all and the pair are sadly missed by fans.

Work has begun to reduce the danger of flooding to riverbank homes in Horncastle, the Environment Agency committing £100000 to the project which is expected to last seven weeks. The work has been necessitated because of the activities of burrowing animals as well as general damage such as ruts along the bank.

Finally David Harper from Leisure Property Services has ruffled a few feathers in Skeggy by stating that the resort needs to up it’s game even suggesting that the town adopt a new name! Mr Harper is of the opinion that Skegness needs to be rebranded to attract a wealthier market and changing its name would be a cost effective way of achieving this. Not surprisingly the good folks of the town not to mention the Jolly Fisherman have given Mr Harpers comments a very frosty reception. Nigel Tett from the East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association said:-

"Skegness is one of the most recognised names within this country and that is borne out by Visit England who say Skegness and Lincoln are two of the main attractors within this part of the world.

Don’t drag Lincoln into this! Mr Harper was unrepentant:-

"Most of the people I speak to, who don't know Skegness think it's one of the grottier resorts in the country," he said.

"They have a perception of it being all caravans and slot machines. They have no clue that it has one of the best beaches there in the whole of the UK

Talk about damned with faint praise! Have a good week wherever you are.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Embarrassed to be an Imp.

Getting out in the fresh air, a bit of escapism, forgetting your troubles and seeing people who are a lot better than you play a game of football. That’s what watching professional football is about, camaraderie, togetherness, letting yourself go.

For many seasons now Lincoln City fans have just had the fresh air bit, nothing to look forward to, very little pleasure in the football, assurances, promises. Things can only get better but they don’t.

Last night truly was a new low point in following the Imps. As fans we have to accept defeat, of course. Sometimes defeat to a team we were expecting to beat. We are now at a point when we don’t expect anything. Out played by a team so far below in the football pyramid most fans had barely heard of them. By all accounts the Carshalton fans were sympathetic and gave the away fans an easy time. They couldn’t believe how bad we were.

The brief uplift in the mood caused by the announcement of the cash injection yesterday now but a memory. It’ll take more than that half a million to cure the malaise at Sincil Bank. A few seasons ago there was cash in the bank, or so we were told. Keith Alexander had the team riding high in the league. Regular attendances of 5000 plus. That was the time for the half million but no. Budgets were cut, promotion was not achieved, opportunity knocked and the door was slammed in its face.

Relegation, we are told has cost the club a million pounds, as if relegation was something visited upon the club whilst we weren’t looking, nothing to do with us but the reality was it was entirely to do with us. The chairman comes in for a lot of criticism and I’m not going to join in but he should have stepped in when we needed very little to see us safe, dispatched Tilson and got in somebody, anybody, to bring a change in the mood and the couple of points that would have seen us preserve our league status.

So here we are then, poised for a new dawn. Our new team, want to play for Lincoln City and will see us through to better times. They look to me like cast offs other teams do not want and I challenge them to prove me wrong.

As for the new dawn it still looks very dark to me.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Current investors believe in self help.

These dark mornings, poor weather, post Christmas blues, not even the football to cheer us up but there was a late present for long suffering Imps fans this morning. It has been announced that a new investment of around £500000 is to be made into the football club.

A restructuring will also take place with the club effectively being run by a holding company. The new investors are……The existing shareholders. Well it is Lincoln City and if Roman Abramovitch has any relatives wanting to invest in football clubs they won’t be looking at us. Hey ho, the Lord helps them as help themselves my Mum always said.

Naturally some fans are starting to talk about a promotion push but I would imagine the stark reality must be that, such is the financial hole City find themselves in as a result of relegation and in view of the plight of others particularly poor old Darlington the money will be soaked up merely keeping going but the board and the trust hope more investment will follow.

Bob Dorrian was no doubt relieved to have some good news to impart for a change. He told BBC Lincolnshire:-

"This is a new chapter in the history of Lincoln City Football Club and gives the foundations and platform for a realistic business model for next season and thereafter."

The supporters trust will also be part of the holding company also made a statement:-

"The new investments from Bob Dorrian, Lincolnshire Co-operative and Lindum Group demonstrates their great commitment to the Imps.

"We hope that this will encourage further new investment in to the club, something which the Trust has actively supported for many years."

Some support for our beleaguered chairman, still with ringing in his ears after last Saturdays damp squib of a cup game. He will be hoping as we all do that there will be more good news tonight, we could do with some.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Imps remain in the cup- at least for the moment.

That’s because tonight’s tie against Carshalton Athletic has been postponed 24 hours due to the state of the pitch.

In a sign of the exalted position of the competition no referee is available to inspect Carshalton’s pitch until five o’clock so the FA have advised that the tie be put off until tomorrow. We therefore survive another day in the trophy.

Monday, 16 January 2012

All is revealed.

I had the temerity to question the manager leaving out Josh Gowling and Gavin McCallum from Saturday’s squad for the FA Trophy game. I now read on the Echo’s website that these players along with Tony Sinclair are the ones who have been spotted outside a Lincoln nightclub on Thursday night when they should be tucked up in bed.

I don’t think an apology is necessary as I was unaware of the nightclub story at the time I wrote the Carshalton article but it certainly puts the team selection into perspective.

Gowling particularly disappoints me. He’s club captain and he should be doing everything he can to get back in the team. Lincoln is not London or even Nottingham. You’re always going to be seen but that’s not the point. They’re professionals.

No wonder the fans are demotivated and this time no one can blame the board. People pay good money to see the team play. Alright, it’s not the Premier League but if we wanted to watch players who have been out on the razzle we could do that any Sunday morning.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

You think this is bad? Get used to it!

Saturday was something of a new low in the long and not always distinguished history of Lincoln City and, for those not at Sincil Bank, things got a bit ugly at half time and security was in evidence towards the end as, presumably board members feared for their eardrums if not their safety. Amusingly, for us regulars, there was quite a bit of noise in the Echo stand as, not being allowed in their usual end some of the Stacey Westers decided it would be fun to liven up us old codgers and livened up we were although we would have preferred it to be as a result of exciting play rather than fans venting their fury at perceived failings at boardroom level. That’s the way it seemed at the half time rumpus, later David Holdsworth was to find out the chaps and chapesses are not too happy with him either what with all the chopping and changing.

Talking of chopping and changing, that would be ok if there was some dramatic improvement of the teams prospects a la John Beck who you may remember and it is becoming a bit of a memory now, carried out wholesale team rebuilding and after a short time the team was unrecognisable but so was the league position. The trouble is, the team is becoming unrecognisable but what we are seeing seems to us uneducated proles, if anything worse than what we were seeing before. Are Gowling and McCallum REALLY inferior to their replacements despite the manager’s words on the radio?

On to the cup tie and it pains me to even recall it to be honest, it started well enough but it didn’t take long, I was going to say didn’t take long for City to descend to Carshalton’s level but that would be grossly unfair to our opponents who put up a spirited effort to win the tie albeit by employing tactics designed to stifle City. Why shouldn’t they? We’re the home team after all.

I expected City to try to pass pass pass and eventually tire out the part timers. Well if they were trying to pass the ball I didn’t see it from where I was sitting and soon enough we were lumping it anywhere as we made Carshalton look like, well not world beaters but you know what I mean. Even when they hit the post City seemed unable to raise their game and frankly went from bad to worse as Carshalton scented blood and, for them a major scalp. I don’t know about you but I didn’t feel like we deserved that giant status afforded us on the opposition’s website. It was just embarrassing.

That’s the problem. Most of us turned up hoping, expecting even a nice relaxing afternoon as City got amongst the goals and eased through to the next round drawing hopefully another easy tie, mugs that we are. Back to where I started, the board. If I were them I would be very fearful that this debacle will turn even more fans away from supporting City. They can always come back when things improve, or can they? We’re constantly being told that things are very tight at the Bank (that was Bank with a capital B but it might also be the other one) in fact I’m fed up to the back teeth of hearing it. Things are very tight with a lot of families yet the club expect fans to turn out and pay league prices to watch football that wouldn’t be out of place at Carshalton’s level. After all, they certainly coped well enough with anything we could throw at them didn’t they?

Went to the theatre – What a Pantomime!

Shaky sets. Iffy singing and corny jokes. Yes it’s Panto season and this isn’t to suggest that this years offering at the Theatre Royal is or rather was in any way inferior because, Cinderella once again starring Cannon and Ball was an utterly brilliant night out.

Cannon and Ball, haven’t they retired or even……?? Nope. These veteran performers have been at Lincoln Theatre Royal for a third pantomime season and yet again provided a thoroughly enjoyable, absorbing traditional Christmas treat. Sure it’s old fashioned, politically incorrect, jokes recycled a thousand times but if you’re young, old, male, female, married, single, anyone really, particularly if you’re feeling a bit miserable at the moment this is the show for you or rather was as it finishes on Sunday, that’s if you could have got a ticket which you probably couldn’t. Luckily for you, they’re back next year in Dick Whittington.

Lincoln is now a good place to be for comedy with most of the top stand up performers visiting at least once, Andy Parsons, Sarah Millican and Jack Dee appearing in front of capacity audiences in the last few weeks but there are other comedians, regular TV personalities who struggle to fill the LPAC and yet these supposed has been’s have provided the Royal with record audiences night after night after night. In terms of bums on seats this run has broken every record in the theatre’s history and it’s been around for a long long time. Out of date? I don’t think so!

It’s pointless giving you a flavour of the story, everyone knows that and in terms of the show if you ever went to see these two in their pomp well, that’s what you get and the audience loved it, yet another sell out in this lovely old venue, so good to see the place roaring with laughter, even the gods packed out, it’s a wonder they didn’t tumble all the way down to the stalls they were laughing that much.

Particular mention must be made of Cinderella and Dandini, played by stand in’s on Saturday, not that you’d have noticed but it’s the show as a whole that’s such a delight, the gorgeous dancers (even the blokes!) the local children in the dance troupe the old stager who played Baron Hardup, probably glad to have a few weeks secure employment courtesy of two old troupers happy to share the limelight. Do yourself a favour, Dick Whittington, Theatre Royal Lincoln starting December.


We were delighted to spend a few minutes with Bobby Ball in the Bombay, Lincoln’s oldest Indian restaurant, after the show.

Thoroughly engaging and without pomposity he happily chatted with us about the show and what the duo are doing at the moment. Still good friends after all this time, Bobby, 68 we were amazed to hear has TV work lined up (on Sky if you’re interested). Tommy Cannon, unbelievably is in his mid 70’s. The pair will be appearing in their own show, in Blackpool in the late summer and of course, back in Lincoln next Christmas.

As Bobby says, they had considered retiring but what would they do? Well what Bobby will be doing first thing Monday morning, he confided, is flying to Marbella with his wife for a well earned break.

Thoroughly deserved and we thank you for the fantastic entertainment you both gave us.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Carshalton’s beanstalking us in the cup.

Cannon and Ball are hoofing it up at the Theatre Royal so it’s still officially panto season and our FA Trophy opponents, Carshalton Athletic are certainly taking it seriously - oh no they’re not- oh yes they are!

Carshalton’s chairman, Frank Thompson was on BBC Lincolnshire this morning saying this is their biggest game for years. A glance at the club website reveals, oh dear, “On Saturday 14 January The Mighty Robins Travel to, wait for it, Lincoln to face the BS Premier Giants Lincoln City FC. All that’s missing is a banana skin. Roll on five and lets hope we can live up to the billing.

Fans fears that all the comings and goings at Sincil Bank will result in a de stabilising effect seem to have been borne out and City now sit on a three game losing streak. In theory tomorrow is a good chance to put all that behind them and get back to the halfway decent form the team were in previously.

Today brings the news that Paul Robson, formerly with Newport, has signed as cover for the fragile Tony Sinclair. One would imagine that he will have plenty of opportunities to show what he can do from now to the end of the season. The City boss has revealed the Sinclair has been playing through the pain barrier but cannot train, a situation unacceptable to Holdsworth.

In other news, as they say, it has been revealed that David Holdsworth does not have a contract, a situation he regards as beneficial:-

"I don't have a contract, I have an agreement," he said. "But I'm enjoying it here and that doesn't bother me.

"At Mansfield I had a price on my head and couldn't take the chances which came my way, but I've not come here with any thought other than giving 100% commitment.

"It cuts both ways. It's no good me saying it about the players then not doing it myself."

Whilst not decrying the managers confidence Imps fans will be heartened that there will be no expensive pay off with no success to show for it should the manager fail. Let’s hope that’s mis placed pessimism.

Talking of failure, the manager was forthright on the matter of players contracts:

"The most disconcerting thing for me is that there are people who are very happily draining this club of money without pulling up their sleeves and getting stuck in," he added. "They have no desire and that bugs me.” He told BBC Lincolnshire.

Players must be willing to have success-related contracts. When they're not successful they should take a pay cut.

"If clubs don't put in clauses for when they get relegated, more fool them.” Precisely.

So, to the cup, I should be grateful we have survived to face mighty Carshalton but, like you will be happy to be able to say of the cup tie “ Its behind you!”

I certainly wasn’t going to miss out on that one.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Richard Pacque’s his bags a little too often.

According to the Eastbourne Herald our new striker Richard Pacquette is prolific alright – but never hangs around long enough to make a name for himself.

The Herald, reporting on local side Eastbourne Borough’s game against Maidenhead United, made the observation that Pacquette’s departure might have been a blow for the scoring potency of Boro's opponents but the Magpies seem to have made up for his absence by promoting young striker Alex Wall to the front line. He grabbed the only goal in a close encounter.

Richard played for both teams but the Herald made a telling observation in their match report:-

“Pacquette had been in fine form for the Magpies recently but two facts are near-certain with Pacquette, he is capable of scoring goals but he will never stay around for long.

Last week non league’s nomadic marksman packed up his kit bag for the 20th time during his career and reacquainted himself with his former Boro’ team-mate Jamie Taylor at Blue Square Premier outfit Lincoln City”

I think we all came to the conclusion that Pacquette is a wanderer when we studied his lengthy list of employers. Whether we see the other side of his make up, the goals is something we sincerely hope for.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Same old City

We had a nice long Christmas break but, as usual didn’t manage to cram in all the things we wanted to do. One of those was a visit to my sister in Oxfordshire. It would have been unthinkable in Keith’s time but we decided to go this weekend, missing the home game against York.

I didn’t really think about my mate Stewart but I just happened to glance at my phone whilst, you might not be surprised to hear this, having a drink with my brother and sisters partner. Stewart had asked about the game, I texted back apologising for not being in touch but I was in a pub in Oxford. It was about 3.20. Back came a reply, “you’re not missing much.”

Later on we were, ahem, having a drink before dinner. Our charming waitress was French. I ordered a pint of Hardy and Hansons bitter, which used to be local to us but not now. I still like it though. My sisters partner said, meme chose, the same, just being friendly but it reminded me of a saying that certainly sums up City at the moment. “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The more things change the more they stay the same in case you’re unfamiliar with it and after the week we’ve had, hard to disagree with. A week of frenetic activity, same home defeat to show for it. When will the tide turn for our hapless club and will it all end in tears for yet another manager battling against the tide of under funding ? The relative security of our position before Christmas is a memory now and we are looking vulnerable again. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. I’ll have another pint please.

The lovely city of Oxford. Nothing to to keep us at Sincil Bank at the moment. How things change!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

All aboard for the mystery tour.

The Imps supremo has been sheltering from the wind in his office conjuring up some variety for his squad.

As widely predicted, Kyle Perry has gone on loan to Telford. This was no surprise both in terms of the striker’s effectiveness for the Imps and also history with the manager. In comes Karlton Watson, Forests former club Academy Player of the Year who now finds himself out in the cold at the City Ground having struggled with an injury just when things were looking good for him. Hopefully he can get on track with us. is now reporting that Jake Sheriden has agreed terms to join City on a permanent contract, a move that will presumably be welcomed by the faithful. Having lost one goal keeper Adam Smith is set to arrive from Leicester together with another defender. This information courtesy of Leigh Curtis’ twitter offerings, so every reason to suppose it will happen.

Interesting times at Lincoln City.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Clicking turnstiles?

Not really but it makes a change from revolving doors, either way it’s a busy time at Sincil Bank as David Holdsworth shuffles his pack. There I go again.

As mentioned previously Kyle Perry is on his way, to Telford according to one report I saw. Perry is yet another in a long line of strikers at Lincoln who can’t/won’t jump, struggles with headers and generally doesn’t seem to play to his physical attributes which a certain lady of my acquaintance was admiring as recently as Boxing Day. She’ll miss him, not many others will which is a shame as these players looking for another chance come and go and as a fan you hope they will grasp the opportunity. Usually they don’t.

Talking of recycled strikers looking for another chance, City have signed Richard Pacquette until the end of the season. He has been round the block so to speak and does seem to have a good scoring rate. Why does he scoot around so much then? Maybe we’ll find out.

Very much on the minus side Richard Hinds has departed. Contract cancelled say the official site. To pastures new on better money say the pundits on twitter. We’re getting used to that. Danny Hone has extended his loan at Barrow.

A winger, Danny Lloyd, has signed from Colwyn Bay, hopefully in time to play against York. Exciting times, even if the names fail to excite. I look forward to being proved wrong.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Year, same old City.

I suppose the double header against our nearest and dearest was eagerly anticipated, certainly it was by me after the mini resurgence in form but in the end we were reflecting on a pointless Christmas. Boxing Day’s clash was certainly a game of two halves and from where I sit with the old codgers if anything the Imps were expected to take advantage of the following wind (insert fishy jokes here) in the second half and finish off the haddocks from Humberside. How wrong we were and the lack of booing afterwards underlined the view, I think, that the Mariners were worthy winners. After that the defeat at Grimsby was something of a foregone conclusion, City’s away form being woeful, Forest Green Rovers aside.

Today’s news that Darlington are either in or to go into administration brings into focus the multi layered nature of fans concerns. We are concerned that our team is nowhere near fit for the purpose of challenging at the top of the division. Darlo are doing just that but are going bust, a process that has been particularly long in the execution. A deal will no doubt be cobbled together that will enable them to carry on and many teams in those circumstances would then continue with the bad habits that got them into financial difficulty although you only have to look at that magnificent stadium to get an idea of the root of the problem at Darlington. That again brings us back to City. We know that offers have been made to either take over the Imps or come on to the board. Were the present management correct to reject those overtures? Maybe they were.

We went over to Norwich in between Christmas and New Year. It’s a nice city, a bit bigger than Lincoln and quite similar but if you ever think Lincoln is remote then have a look at Norfolk’s County Town. Over two hours to London by train and it’s far closer than Lincoln. It’s a hell of a trip by road too. Which brings me to Norwich City FC. Their “local derby” is Tottenham Hotspur, 110 miles away. A couple of years ago the Canaries and the Imps were just one division apart. I had a walk down to Carrow Road. There is no comparison between it and Sincil Bank, none. Norwich have no Russian oligarch or mysterious backer to bankroll them apart from the sainted Delia and the likes of Stephen Fry. Like us they’re off the beaten track, unfashionable and yet they seem to glory in their isolation. To say I was jealous is the greatest understatement in the history of language.

                                      Let's be 'avin' yer Delia. Wish you were ours