Andrew Abbott's Blog

Monday, 30 April 2012

Bob speaks to season ticket holders.

In further evidence of a new era of communication, Bob Dorrian has written an open letter to supporters and particularly season ticket holders now the season has ended. You can read what he has to say now on

In an upbeat message, Dorrian stresses the clubs reliance on season ticket sales and hopes for next season:-

“A strong season ticket holder base makes an enormous difference to the playing budget we can provide to the manager; season ticket prices and benefits for the 2012/13 season will be announced tomorrow, Tuesday 1 May, with tickets going on sale next Wednesday, 9 May.”

He adds:-

“David Holdsworth has been successful in the short-term targets we set him; namely to keep us up, restore professional standards and help the Board manage down the payroll. Our form over the last fifth of the season has also shown that we now have a much stronger base and are well-placed to go into next season with renewed confidence.”

If this is evidence of how the club management is to proceed henceforth then it can only be welcomed. For too long the club has been too defensive and tight lipped. This is decidedly a step in the right direction.

Roy to be the new whipping boy. Who saw that coming?

With minds on other matters, chiefly Sunday night TV judging by my twitter feed, news started to filter through on said media that West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson is to be interviewed for the poisoned chalice that is the England manager’s job.

My wife asked me if he’s any good. My answer was that when he’s good he’s very very good but when he’s not, well, Liverpool, to quote a recent example but there are other failures.

It strikes me that Hodgson could be another Graham Taylor and you can just imagine the headlines not to mention the photographs in the papers the first time England are put in their place by some minnow nation.

Presumably Harry Redknapp either knocked England back or the realisation that very substantial compensation was going to have to be paid ruled him out. Is it a coincidence that Spurs actually managed a win on Sunday?

One does wonder if Harry’s heart really was in the job once the euphoria of being linked with it wore off. Those plaudits from his peers must have sounded gratifying but in the cold light of dawn the thought of all those grubby news hounds camped on his palatial lawns the moment things turned a bit negative is enough to put off the most committed patriot.

If it is to be Roy Hodgson then good luck to him. His CV is extensive and no one can accuse him of lack of experience and it’s experience over a wide spectrum not just here in England. I still can’t get that image out of my mind of a bemused manager hanging off the edge of the bench, hands clasped on his knees though.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

So that’s that then.

The final game of the season slipped by almost unnoticed, one of few that were of little consequence in the last few years. The early kick off also gave the impression that City were somewhat out of the loop which of course we are.

As we’ve become accustomed to an easy 3.1 lead became a close finish as the Imps toyed with their supporters once again but a goal from Bore and a brace from Taylor put paid to Ebbsfleet and the season. City finish the campaign in seventeenth position which, lets face it, most of us would had settled for if we were offered the chance a month ago.

A forgettable season then. It would be churlish to deny that Fleetwood were worthy winners. When I was putting together the grounds guide for the Deranged Ferret fanzine all those months ago the progress they had made, the improvements to the stadium, everything about that club pointed to another successful season for them and so it proved.

All four of the play off contenders are former league clubs and therein lays our hope. Wrexham, Mansfield, York, Luton, they’ve all done their time and one will take their place in the relative sun next season and good luck to them. Whilst crowds have been disappointing for City, understandably, they have held up reasonably well once they bottomed out at just over the 2000 mark and that shows the future for the Imps and indeed the four playoff hopefuls. Unlike the Fleetwood’s of this world, Lincoln City are capable of progressing without relatively large sums of money being paid to effectively purchase success and once the Imps turn the corner as we fervently hope they will, no doubt more fans will re discover the delights of Sincil Bank.

On the subject of large sums of money it must be acknowledged that the board of directors and particularly Bob Dorrian, much criticised by the supporters, have personally invested in Lincoln City still further and quite handsomely and for that we should, as fans, be grateful.

As to David Holdsworth he will be aware that he does not yet enjoy the unequivocal confidence of the fans but he has at least delivered survival this season and that, after all was his brief. We start off next season with a clean slate and whilst we may be sceptical we would all be pleased to be shown the error of our ways.

This may be difficult to believe at the moment but summer really is around the corner. Have a good one.

Thanks for joining me in increasing numbers this season to read my take on the world of Impdom. Keep logging on throughout the summer for my personal view on Lincoln City, Lincolnshire and the mysterious world beyond.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Season Ebbs away.

No doubt to head off simmering fan discontent over the position of legend, local hero and all round good egg, Grant Brown it is now reported on that contract talks are underway with the Head of Youth. Word had been getting around the everyone’s favourite hoofer might be on the slippery slope with manager David Holdsworth holding a smoking gun. One of the few success stories this season, the rumour mill was at full tilt with allegations that the manager might not like being unfavourably compared to the man who led his squad to the Midland Youth Cup but the club is at pains to explain the move is with the manager’s approval. As in his playing days, no one messes with “hoof” Grant Brown.

Suppose we’d better talk about football and today brings down the curtain on one of the most disappointing seasons most of us can remember although things could of course have been a whole lot worse. Who could forget the empty feeling we all had at tea-time on the last day of the season last year as the realisation sunk in that we were no longer a league team. Ebbsfleet are the opposition and City will be buoyed by a good contingent of Imps as the club report a strong take up of subsidised travel from the Red Imps Travel Section, subsidised by the club that is. I have to pay tribute to those fans who have continued to support the team on the road week in week out, it’s you the team should particularly have in mind as they collect their wages. Hopefully they will manage to put on a show that will send those fans and of course the rest of us into the summer in positive mood.

Ebbsfleet stand four league places above City but did you know they were top of the league for having the worst toilets in football in a poll of fans carried out by Plumb Center? Ebbsfleet weren’t at all inconvenienced by the award in fact they were quite relieved as the award came complete with a prize of £100000 to upgrade their facilities. Let’s hope that by the time the season ends later it won’t be the Imps reputation going down the pan.

One last chance then to put some kind of gloss on a season to forget. It would be nice if the Imps took it. Go on, surprise us.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Prescott speaks and delivers a clear message.

That’s because it’s Lincoln City CEO, Steve Prescott, not the Labour politician. In a wide ranging and detailed report on this seasons financial travails now available on Prescott outlines the difficulties faced by the board and senior staff in keeping the Lincoln City show on the road.

I do have to say that if the club had released more insights into the problems and setbacks faced by the club hierarchy there might have been less criticism from fans. The fact of the matter is most of us agreed with the various managerial appointments so we fans are hardly in a position to have a go when those appointments turn out to be duds.

Prescott goes in to some detail and quotes figures in a clear and concise outline of the many difficulties facing the club as well as giving an insight of the way a football club is run. It makes very interesting reading.

Lincolnshire this week.

Anglian Water are to spend £44 million on a reservoir and water treatment plant at Newton on Trent. Water will be taken from the River Trent and stored before being used to supply Lincoln. Recent drought problems, now a bit of a memory as we emerge dripping and soggy from another week of downpours, have highlighted the need for extra provision for the city. Paul Valleley, director of water services, said: "The current drought affecting our region has highlighted just how important water supplies are.

"This development will help us to ensure we safeguard our customer's drinking water supplies long into the future.

A devoted brother has come to his sisters rescue by driving to Boston to try to get a word with health secretary Andrew Lansley to highlight her plight. Gillian Moulds has twice had her cancer operation cancelled by Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham due to unforeseen emergencies. Brother Andrew Smith succeeded in getting to meet the health boss and now Gillian has been told she would be able to have her procedure in the next few days having previously been told no date could be given, talk about knight in shining armour! No doubt Mr Lansley was also grateful for the opportunity to participate in a good news story for once.

Talking of Boston, I wasn’t particularly aware the town was knee deep in litter but the eyesore has again been making the headlines as Network Rail has finally been persuaded to clean up land adjoining the railway station. Barrie Beagles has had a bee in his bonnet about the problem and has been snapping at the heels of Network Rail to do something about it. The Borough Councils Project Manager saw his efforts rewarded as the authority were joined by some of the towns litter pickers and Operation Fly Swat to sort out the mess. Mr Beagles confessed it was probably a matter of taking the line of least resistance for the rail bosses:-

"I was determined not to give up on this so I kept phoning and phoning and probably made a nuisance of myself but it has paid off and what they have done looks great.

"However, I will be getting on to them again because there's still more to be done.”

Tory MP for Mablethorpe Sir Peter Tapsell has criticized the proposed caravan tax which is now likely to become reality after the measure just about passed through a vote in Parliament. Sir Peter told the Louth Leader :-

“I’m not at all happy with the effect the VAT will have on static caravans and our tourist industry.”

“I’m hopeful of a second bite of the cherry when the bill comes back at report stage, if it’s still unsuitable I will either abstain or vote against it.”

The District Council was not happy either. Leader of the Council Doreen Stephenson said:-

“I am very concerned that introducing this increase over such a short space of time risks damaging the progress that is being made in East Lindsey.

“It needs to be recognised that East Lindsey currently has over 24,000 static caravans, and this proposal will inevitably have a disproportionately negative impact on our area.”

A North Hykeham woman has taken part in the Paris marathon in memory of a brother she never met. Emily Lowman took part in the race on 15 April to raise money for Brake, a charity dedicated to road safety. Emily’s brother was just 11 when he died in a road accident, before she was born. Despite sustaining an injury she completed the course in just over five hours, raising more than £1200. She told the Lincolnshire Echo:-

"It was my first marathon,"

"It was emotional crossing the finish line and seeing my family and boyfriend. It was an overwhelming feeling for us all in remembrance of Gavin."

Lisa Kendall, community fundraiser at Brake, said: "We are extremely grateful to Emily for taking part in the Paris marathon in memory of her brother. "The funds that Emily has raised will go towards Brake's work caring for victims of road crashes and their families."

Got to dash myself now. Have a good weekend wherever you are.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Just one thing missing.

Thursday means Lincolnshire Echo day and this weeks edition didn’t disappoint with a major article featuring an interview with David Holdsworth in which he divulges the inadvisability or lack of foresight in many of the players contracts with Lincoln City Football Club.

Holdsworth reveals that some players would have been due a pay rise even if the club had been relegated. He explains that he was astonished when he read the contracts:-

"If I am here long term then I promise you will never have to deal with the issues that I have inherited and had to try and sort out," he said.

"With respect to the people here before me, some of those contracts that were given to players had clauses upon clauses, upon clauses.

"I was absolutely flabbergasted when looking at them because some players would have received increases even if the club were relegated.

"It is just ridiculous. It's not just here where it has happened, it was the same at Leeds for example when they were relegated to League One.

"When you offer a player a contract, it has to be success related, so if you are not then you have saved the club from losing any more money.

"You have to look after the club and clearly that was not addressed previously.

"It needs to be applied and, okay, you may not sign a player, but, you have to take those chances given how tight things are.

"You simply cannot have Football League contracts in non-league because it costs a lot of money.”

Note the “if I’m here long term” but note also the business like attitude which one could imagine is music to the ears of a financially hard pressed chairman but and you know what’s coming here, but a managers primary role is to win football matches. Do that and crowds will increase and with that revenue. Happy fans buy a programme, burgers, rent a room for their anniversary party, buy a season ticket.

Unfortunately David Holdsworths win ratio is poor. There is much in the paper about the situation the manager found when he got to Lincoln and what he is doing about it. I do recommend you purchase a copy and read for yourself . Good practice, good habits, good organization, we all know that Holdsworth knows what to do the question is will he produce a team capable of winning regularly. City’s supporters will turn out to watch a successful side. Fans demonstrated after that first play off final appearance their appreciation of the teams efforts even though the players were ultimately thwarted in their bid for promotion. The flame has not died. Can Holdsworth reproduce those days because that is the way our football club will survive and prosper. Initial indications are not promising but as always we live in hope.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Here’s a blog you won’t want to miss.

On the Lincoln City Official site this morning appears the first in a regular series of boardroom blogs in which details will be given of matters which the board have been discussing.

In this mornings edition the draft budget, season ticket sales and subsidised travel to Ebbsfleet are covered. In addition, the blog touches upon “provisional agreement” that David Holdsworth would continue as team manager with further discussions to take place.

Could we be entering a new era of openness and transparency? Read the blog and judge for yourself.

Barcelona v Chelsea. Pure drama on the biggest club stage.

Judging by some of the comments on my twitter feed there aren’t too many Chelsea fans amongst the people I follow. Personally I will cheer for any English side in the two European competitions but it’s a free country.

Gradually though, after the sheer stupidity of John Terry’s sending off. Will anybody even want him in the England squad after his recent behaviour culminating in last nights betrayal of team mates and fans? Grudging admiration started to come through as Chelsea not only weathered the storm but scored an exquisite goal courtesy of Ramires.

As the game wore on a gradual realisation that Chelsea really could go through. Messi was in terrible form. Has he missed a penalty before? Barcelona kept on with the same approach when surely they should have been shooting instead of passing. As it was only Messi had a go and, such was his evening that Cech managed to push his effort against the post.

At the height of the drama who should find himself with only the keeper to beat? Torres. In his pomp with Liverpool you would have put your mortgage on him scoring but now? As we all held our breath Torres rounded the keeper and stroked the ball into the net. Cue delirium. Has Torres paid back a big chunk of that millstone of a transfer fee and banished his demons? I think he just might have done.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

60 Photographs for 60 Years

Special Exhibition 4 February 2012 - 28 October 2012

This exhibition of photographs to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is on at Windsor Castle. You get the photos included as part of the tour of the castle.

At £17 for an adult ticket Windsor Castle is good value when you consider the sheer scale of the home of English and British monarchs, right back to Norman times. You get to see the dolls house, staterooms, ballroom, dining rooms including the St Georges Hall used for State Banquets and much much more. Half a day could easily be used up having a good look at all there is on offer. St George’s Chapel alone with tombs of various Kings and Queens including Henry the Eighth could seriously delay the keen history vulture.

The exhibition of photographs was creating a great deal of interest and there were many foreigners, there for the castle tour displaying an intimate knowledge of the British Royal Family. The subjects of the photos varied from state visits to informal holiday snaps. You won’t get the feeling that the Royals are just like you and me though. How many of us would be in a suit for a lark around the garden with the kids or dolled up in pearls and heels not to mention the get ups for the races. Still, it’s an interesting glimpse into the life of a monarch who has been around as long as most of her subjects have been on this earth, myself included.

Foreign trips, military service, ribbon cutting, they’re all there in this intriguing exhibition which will delight all but the most ardent republican. You’ve got until October to have a look.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Almost there.

Thankfully I didn’t attend the final home game of the season so I can’t comment on it but, from afar a depressingly familiar vibe. City needed to sign off in style but didn’t. The fans needed some entertainment to encourage them to renew their season tickets but didn’t get it. Some cries of Holdsworth out and general dissatisfaction. Welcome to my world.

For Lincoln City who knows what the future will bring? There is no comparison to the last season in non league where desperation was turned into triumph. Cometh the hour cometh the man they say. That man was Colin Murphy and the shock of relegation from league football was purged in short order as City were returned to their rightful home. No such return this time and, to be honest none was expected. If anything the feeling I get from some fans is that further indignity may befall the club before anything good happens. I do hope they’re wrong.

There is of course one more game before the end of the season to put some sort of gloss on the situation. No one is holding their breath. The manager, the board, the supporters trust, the supporters, no one seems to have the solution and, if anything the close of this season seems to bring even more uncertainty about the future for our club. Cometh the hour cometh the man. Who is that man? I don’t know.

One more week to go. Most of us spend the summer wishing on the pre season friendlies. Not this time I suspect. Things could be worse though, but not much.

Finally, as usual the fans were spot on with the player of the season. Joe Anyon has been a bright spot in a dark season with Josh Gowling runner up. He’s had a strange season but has emerged with credit. It wouldn’t surprise me if either player has made their last appearance for the club. Hopefully that will be as inaccurate as my lottery number selections.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Lincolnshire this week.

As if anyone really thought that they wouldn’t, it has now been confirmed that the Red Arrows will play a pivotal role in the forthcoming London Olympics. The Reds will perform a flypast over Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London to celebrate the opening ceremony. The crisis hit team will put their troubles behind them in an unfamiliar seven formation as they carry out the Big Battle manoeuvre used for important ceremonies. The events will take place on the 27 July, before the opening ceremony begins.

The Teal Park business park in North Hykeham is due to be completed by September but so far only Siemens has signed a deal to move their manufacturing and research facility in. However Lincolnshire County Council is confident other businesses will soon be on board. Paul Wheatley, the council’s head of economic regeneration said:-

"Once the park has been completed a lot of businesses we are talking to will see that as a signal that the site is open.

"I think that's the point we will see them moving on to the site - businesses like to see that the site is finished before they commit,"

Morrison’s, the supermarket chain plans to expand a new seafood processing site it has bought in North East Lincolnshire. The former Kwok’s plant on Europarc in Grimsby will employ 170 people preparing fish for the company’s stores and is expected to open in September.

Fourteen intrepid cyclists have completed a grueling coast to coast ride to raise £10000 for charity, reports the Stamford Mercury. The group set off from Morecambe last Friday and finished at Bridlington on Sunday. The Way of the Roses route took them over the Yorkshire Dales and Wolds. Spokesman Peter Nolan, who organized the ride having suffered lymphoma, to raise funds for Leukaemia and Lymphoma research said:-

“It was fantastic. All of us got there in the end and from our point of view the cycling was great and we saw some fantastic scenery.

“I decided to organise the event to celebrate the skills of those who treated me so well in hospital.

“We’re just delighted with the response we’ve had and all the donations. It really makes it all worthwhile.”

A very local, local radio station, Lindsey Coast Radio is attempting a World Record by staying on air for longer than the existing achievement of 126 hours to claim a Guinness World Record. Not only that but the broadcasting minnows want to raise money for local charities including Natureland and the seal hospital, Xcite skatepark and the Notts and Lincs Air Ambulance.

Roads around Lincoln have been resurfaced after previous work carried out on them has proved defective. Contractors May Guerney were recalled to sort out the inadequate surfaces which have affected Burton Road, Tentercroft Street, Rookery Lane, Lee Road, Union Road and Eastgate. Traders were dismayed, not to mention out of pocket as a result of the further disruption. A local shop manager , Marianne Clarke said:-

"Why didn't they get it right last time? We just hope that for everyone's sake it gets done properly this time. People are really upset and don't want to go through this again.”

Some redundant schools are to be demolished as the latest addition to the troubled Priory group, the Witham Academy mops up the opposition. Moorland Infant and Nursery School, One of my old Alma Maters, Usher School on Skellingthorpe Road and Ermine Infant and Junior School are all facing the bulldozers. The Priory Group itself has been in the news as the previously unexplained, or at least explained as “personal reasons” departure of the executive head is now known to be as a result of a government inquiry into the all powerful group.

Six Lincolnshire citizens have been given Mayoral Medals by the Mayor of Lincoln, Kathleen Brothwell. The medals, which were originally given to soldiers returning from the First World War, are in recognition of the recipient’s commitment to making a difference to the lives of their fellow residents. The tradition was revived in 1995 by the City Council. The medals were presented to Andy Payne, firefighter, Neil Blow, Lincoln Food Bank, Olive Musson, for services to church and community events, Josephine Gadd, Lincoln Symphony Orchestra, Pete Genders, Off the Bench, working with disadvantaged young people and Bev Smith for her work with Abbie Youthie, helping to reduce antisocial behaviour.

That’s it for another week. Whether you deserve a medal or not, have a good weekend.

Holdsworth hoping to sign a striker in his prime.

Whilst most of us are still digesting the fact that David Holdsworths tenure at Lincoln has been extended without so much as a by your leave the man himself has been turning his attention to the future as of course most of us would expect.

In today’s Lincolnshire Echo Leigh Curtis reveals that Jake Speight, the Wrexham marksman is in the managers sights as he looks to up the ante and get City moving in the right direction. Many of us will agree that whilst the Imps have often been giving the opposition a pasting we’ve not always had the marksman to deliver the final flourish and so possession and attack play have gone unrewarded.

Another name in the frame is Richard Brodie, a Crawley player who has been on loan to Fleetwood Town who many of us will remember for a belligerent battering ram performance against the Imps at Sincil Bank this season. Curtis is a fan as his post match chat with Michael Hortin on BBC Lincolnshire at the time showed. I thought he was a pain in the butt but then as an opposition fan you do. My colleagues here in Boston thought Simon Yeo was a pain in the butt but we didn’t didn’t we?

These developments do give me a bit of hope. We are even getting some optimistic talk that next season could give us something to make us sit up and take notice:-

"If we can sign a forward who can score 15 plus goals then you will have a sustained run towards the play-offs," Holdsworth told the Echo

I am embarrassed that we don’t have somebody who has scored more than ten goals,”

“That has to be a must if you have got ambition to progress, but they are certainly not easy to find.

“If you look at Fleetwood, they have a full compliment of strikers that have helped the team score 100 goals.

“But their players are on four times as much money as my lads are on.

“However, with a bit of hard work and contacts in the right places you can find those players. And that will be one of my biggest aims for the club this summer.”

Whilst the jury is still out no Imps fan wants the manager to fail. Holdsworth as a manager is very much a work in progress as is Lincoln City. Talk such as this sells season tickets and that is another urgent requirement.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Holdsworth’s the man(ager)

Word is starting to get around that Lincoln City have agreed terms with David Holdsworth with both Leigh Curtis, Lincolnshire Echo’s man at the Bank and Michael Hortin his BBC Lincolnshire counterpart both reporting to their twitter followers that the verbal contract to the end of this season is on the verge of becoming something more substantial.

Though the jury is still out on the former Mansfield supremo amongst the fans no one can deny that Holdsworth has carried out his remit with games to spare and fans are relieved that the clubs fate did not go down to the wire as was the case last season.

Supporters can now look forward to a relaxing afternoon at Sincil Bank on Saturday as Hayes & Yeading attempt an almost impossible escape from the clutches of relegation. The usual player of the season awards will take place before the game. Can’t begin to guess who might be in the frame for that!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Done deal?

No sooner had I raised the supposition that there would be some kind of inquest into David Holdsworths tenure as Lincoln City manager than word starts to get around that the club are in negotiation with Mr Holdsworth in respect of a new contract or I suppose I should say a contract given that we were told the manager has been operating without one. This was confirmed later on with chairman Bob Dorrian on BBC Lincolnshire saying now that City’s league position was secured the club was to move forward and a deal should be thrashed out.

Perhaps there was some discussion at boardroom level; we’re not going to find out so we now await further developments. City have nailed their colours to the mast saying before Holdsworth was appointed that no Imps manager is going to get a long contract, unless of course it suits City to do so and that would mean success which would be nice, so a rolling contract presumably.

Having mentioned the possibility that a longer contract could eventually be offered to a successful manager you do wonder if it would be signed, certainly in Holdsworths case. If the rumour mill is correct he applied for the Rotherham job so don’t expect him to hang around if things take an upward turn. That’s starting to sound like wishful thinking though.

In the meantime, two more games to be played. After the thumping of Darlington and the result against Fleetwood which was a shot in the arm even given that a two goal lead was given away, City will be hoping to continue their strong finish. After all there are season tickets to be sold and Mr Holdsworth will have to get his salesman’s hat on. Publicity is one area; I think we are all agreed the manager is particularly strong in.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Party Poopers

City at least saved some face by refusing to play patsy to Fleetwood Town and gave as good as they got to deny the champions their prize at Lincoln City’s expense.

Ironically the point gained on Friday night not only was insufficient for Fleetwood but was also too little to ensure complete safety for Lincoln and both teams got what they needed the next day, in City’s case courtesy of Mansfield beating Hayes & Yeading who are the final visitors to Sincil Bank next weekend.

To say we will all be glad of a break from this most disappointing and mediocre of seasons would be an understatement but we should be grateful for small mercies and at least a second relegation has been spared with two games to go.

For Lincoln City’s board the not inconsiderable task not only of absorbing what is presumably another significant financial loss and subsequent trimming of budget for next season at a time the fans will be expecting at least a tilt at the playoffs but in addition the weighty conundrum of the managers position.

Just looking firstly at the financial position, having spoken to disaffected season ticket holders, City will have their work cut out keeping a significant number of their support on board. Not only have the Imps put on some exceedingly poor spectacles at Sincil Bank this season but the season ticket holders have seen their not inconsiderable investment eroded by various offers and inducements in a desperate effort to get bums on seats. Again, speaking to fellow fans there’s a feeling that games at the Bank just have no sense of occasion any more and you wonder how many parents see being a mascot for example as the sort of present of a lifetime that it once was especially given the many distractions available to children these days and how many company chiefs will see matchday sponsorship as a worthwhile investment now Sincil Bank is such an unhappy place.

We turn now to the sixty four thousand dollar question: The manager’s position. The remit was, we presume or were we told? Keep City up. David Holdsworth is able to point to the fact that he has achieved this with games to spare. He has also significantly trimmed the wage bill and, again we presume, pulled in more than a few favours in operating the management of the club on a shoestring. Perhaps there was a deal, keep us up and you’re in. Either way it’s a difficult one. Again, talking to fans and reading the various fan web sites David Holdsworth has not won over a significant number of the support despite the fact that he is the only manager since Keith Alexander to actually carry out the requirements of the board of directors.

It’s very easy to criticise the board for their decisions and their actions. It’s easy on a website such as this to point the finger, be wise after the event, say I wouldn’t have done this or that and generally be a clever dick. As Nick Clegg is finding out it’s not so easy when you stick your head above the parapet and the rotten tomatoes start flying. As previously mentioned it could well be that this seasons shoestring finances will look like a fortune next term and the faithful will be expecting more than another relegation battle. If the board thought this season was bad it might seem like a walk in the park next Christmas. I wish them well and I’m glad it’s not my decision.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Lincolnshire this week.

A row between two councils has meant a proposed major revamp in Sleaford has had to be put on hold. North Kesteven District Council has started work on converting the long disused Bass Maltings into shops offices houses and apartments but the project is dependant upon Sleaford Town Council selling land for a new road. They have expressed reservations as the road will do away with a level crossing. Unlike in Lincoln where everyone is keen to see an end to the anachronistic barriers it would seem in Sleaford they’re determined to hang on to them. There can only be one winner though and the District Council have one weapon up their sleeves, compulsory purchases. Councillor Phillip Rowson told BBC Lincolnshire:-

"It needs that expansion, it needs that new road, it needs infrastructure.

"You are dealing with growth, you are dealing with a multimillion-pound development and, not unusually, you need new infrastructure to make the development work properly.

"What we can't have is a series of developments which are going to generate a great deal of traffic, which can't be reached and accessed safely."

A group of French travellers have taken up residence on Lincolns South Common in what is becoming an annual stand off. The City council have issued an eviction notice and with the April Fun Fair due to start arriving this weekend something has got to give.

The museum of Lincolnshire Life has received a boost this week in the form of a grant of £335000 from the Arts Council and £200000 from Lincolnshire County Council. The money will be used to give a makeover to the reception gift shop and courtyard over the next ten months. The Council says the improvements will reduce the attractions carbon footprint. Councillor Eddy Poll, executive member for cultural services, said: "Since the introduction of free entry three years ago, the museum has been going from strength to strength.

"This project represents the next exciting step for the museum and an opportunity to ensure its long-term success in telling the story of the people of Lincolnshire and their shared cultural heritage."

Is it really a year since mention was made in this blog of the Boston big clean up? Well it must be as the initiative has reported over three tons of rubbish has been collected from around the district. Staff from McDonalds joined the effort this year together with Asda, Boston Borough Council, Boston Mayflower, Longhurst and Havelok Homes, North Sea Camp, Fly Swat Team, Black Sluice IDB, Tulip Ltd, Lincolnshire County Council, Framework Housing, Holy Trinity, Environment Agency, Kier Maintenance, Salvation Army, New Life Fellowship, Centenary Church, Angling Association and Boston College. Jen Moore, who organized the event, told the Boston Target:-

"The enthusiasm and friendly atmosphere never ceases to amaze me, all helped along by the wonderful support we get from the churches in Boston who prepare and serve lunches for all of the volunteers throughout the week long clean up and also Councillor Yvonne Gunter on teas and coffees.

"A big thank you this year must go to the Environment Agencies operations team headed up by Adam Robinson, they not only supported the clean up each day during the week but also provided litter pickers for all the volunteers.

"Thanks should also go to the Witham Tavern, Fenside Community Centre, Salvation Army and the Holy Trinity Church who provided a much needed tea stop and toilet facilities."

With the county joining the rest of Eastern England and the South in a hosepipe ban Anglian Water is considering buying water in from neighbouring Severn Trent who are not experiencing a drought. Having said that, the moment the ban was announced the heavens opened and it has hardly stopped raining since. Nevertheless AWA have stressed that people must take steps to preserve water themselves but at the same time are making plans to alleviate future problems. A spokesman said:-

"We are talking to Severn Trent about this idea and it's one that we are taking seriously,"

"We are exploring a number of options to help support the drought-hit region, including the movement of water across water company boundaries.

"In the short term, though, it's vital that everyone takes steps to save water in the home.

"Large-scale support like this scheme could help, but even if we are able to make it work, it won't mean we can cancel this summer's hosepipe ban."

Here’s hoping the ban doesn’t put a dampener on your weekend. Have a good one.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

City fans can look forward to more mediocrity next season.

A couple of days after presenting their credentials as the worst City side many of us can remember at Stockport the Imps went some way to making amends by putting five past Darlington. It’s going to seem churlish after such a one sided romp but Lincoln really should have won more emphatically against a side who are possibly the poorest professional team your correspondent can remember seeing in fifty years of spectating, the Doncaster side memorably described as being ”systematically dismantled” by Chris Ashton being the nearest to them. In those days you could get a first team game for Donny if you were mates with the chairman.

At four – nil just before half time and with a man sent off Darlington were not only on the ropes but facing a mauling against a City side that had finally thrown off the shackles at Sincil Bank and were threatening a record score against this rag tag outfit containing Drewe “Jonah” Broughton, Clark Keltie and Aaron Brown all with the Imps last season underlining the paucity of talent at the Bank last term. The fact that City did not totally run riot due to not so much taking their foot off the gas but rather turning into a poor mans, ok very poor mans Arsenal trying to pass the ball into the net rather than shooting when they had the chance.

It’s a measure of how shell shocked the Lincoln faithful are that even five up and a man to spare no one was counting their chickens but a sort of ram shackle clean sheet was achieved and so, short of a cataclysmic collapse and stratospheric upturn in Hayes & Yeadings form City survive to compete at this level for another season. The same can’t be said for Darlington who escaped the executioners axe this time but he surely won’t miss with his next swing.

Imps fans have been clamouring for a starting place for Danny Lloyd and he took full advantage with two goals. David Holdsworth attempted to explain Lloyds start as all part of the plan but the reality is probably more to do with the Imps crippling injury situation but, no matter, Lloyd duly obliged with City’s opener and he followed that up with a fortuitous, but they all count, shot that hit a defender and looped over keeper Pickford and into the net. When you’re down you’re down. Two for Louis and a goal for Taylor completed the scoring but really one or more City players ought to have filled their boots and Fleetwood are unlikely to prove generous hosts on Friday. Still, stranger things have happened particularly to teams on the cusp of glory.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Heaven is a place on earth and it’s right on our doorstep.

On our annual pilgrimage to the Peak District last week taking the bikes with us to make use of the numerous and growing provision of traffic free cycle ways. These are in the main old railway lines and therefore reasonably flat whilst taking in some of the loveliest scenery and all this under an hour and a half from Lincoln.

Our cottage this year was Pumpkin Cottage ( in the delightful village of Youlgrave. Obviously our first piece of good luck was the weather which was exceptional for late March, so different to the way it is as I write, the Ashbourne to Buxton road is blocked with snow, last week it was shorts and tee shirts.

Youlgrave is a typical upland village, the houses really hem in the road in the centre so there is no parking outside. The owners of the cottage had an arrangement with the pub down the road, the Farmyard Inn, to park in their car park. This was our second piece of good news as, there being no parking fee it was only right to spend a little cash in the pub and this was no hardship as the beer was well kept and the food delicious, freshly prepared and using local produce some from the local butcher, which was also a find. The only downside was the current tenants of the pub are about to depart to pastures new but I give the website address in the hope standards don’t fall too far in the future but it’s a hard act to follow. It’s

The cottage was a delight too and we soon settled in, everything for a relaxing stay was provided, there was even a garden to sit in to enjoy the sun and we made ourselves at home, parking the bikes in the stone built shed which adjoined the house.

We’re no strangers to the area so set off for a favourite route, the Monsal Trail. Once part of the Derby to Manchester line this trail takes you through the wonderful scenery of Monsal Dale over a magnificent viaduct and through some newly re opened old railway tunnels which had been blocked off until recently. As is the case with a lot of these trails there are some businesses opening up along the route and some toilet provision too so it’s very civilised. At the halfway point (although you can carry on to a certain extent but not on the flat) we enjoyed an ice cream at Blackwell Mill Cottages. You can hire bikes here and also towards the other end of the trail, Hassop Station where there is a cafĂ© and book store together with a car park. Plenty of diversions if you’re not a mad keen cyclist.

Next day was the longest ride of the holiday, the Tissington Trail. We started at Ashbourne so as to be riding slightly uphill for the first part of the journey. It does have quite a pronounced slope given that it was a railway. We stopped for a picnic at Hartington before turning back down the gradient this time stopping off at Tissington a lovely village with a magnificent Hall featuring a tea room. This was the attraction and we enjoyed a restorative cuppa. You could allow enough time to visit the hall too but it was too early in the year for us, opening at Easter. There is bike hire at Ashbourne on this trail.

Next day, gluttons for punishment we visited the High Peak Trail a wonderfully remote and atmospheric ride. Once one of the oldest railway lines in the country it was built by canal engineers and so features slopes where the trains used to be hauled up by stationary engines. Being canny riders we avoided them and started at Minninglow which really is in the middle of nowhere. We made our way to Parsley Hay which is a very busy meeting point as the trail meets up with the Tissington trail near this point. There are toilets, shop, bike hire and a snack bar here together with a car park. It’s a mystery why a station was built here but it’s a very busy and sociable place. Just along the trail is a very pleasant pub serving excellent beer and food. It’s a convenient place to turn round and head back.

Thursday was a break from cycling, just like the Tour De France. We caught the train from Buxton to Manchester. A shoppers paradise so I’m informed. I headed for the Manchester Art Gallery.

Friday turned a bit cooler so we cycled from Bakewell on the Monsal Trail again, not with a great deal of conviction. A nice cup of tea at Hassop Station and we rode back to the end of the trail at Coomes Road viaduct back to Bakewell having negotiated one or two of those tunnels again. It looks like work is being done to extend the trail towards Haddon Hall. A wander around one of our favourite Derbyshire towns, the sun had warmed up by now. We bought a print of todays trail then headed home for a bath and fish and chips at the Farmyard.

This was a marvellous and reasonably priced holiday. The locals are friendly and welcoming. Our accommodation was of good quality and reasonably priced. I’d happily recommend any of the establishments noted.

A case of deja vu

For quite some time, having not watched the Imps for a week or two, I sat at Sincil Bank last night wondering if I was seeing a changed team. The tempo was brisk, passing good and City were more than matching a team considerably higher up the table.

Listening to David Holdsworths remarks on the radio after the game I don’t know about battering Cambridge, that was overdoing it but things were going ok. Then Joe Anyon started that, I’m as good as an outfield player malarkey instead of booting the ball out, next thing he’s picking the ball out of the net as the defence, in a rare lapse it has to be said, allowed the Peter Crouch like Harry Pell to weave through them and deliver a cross for Tom Shaw to net. Plus ca change.

The game wore on, City got less and less effective. The much vaunted Danny Lloyd’s introduction amid a flurry of subs could not raise City’s game and it petered out to a narrow loss. We’ve seen a lot of them so not much new there. More possession, more shots for City could have produced a different result. The team certainly would have been worthy recipients of a point but that’s how it is when you’re struggling. Games against Stockport and Darlo to come in quick succession, winnable games both. A decent return from those games and things might look a bit more rosy. Defeat might be a return to squeaky bums. Do hope not.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

That was the week that was.

I’ll have to go on holiday more often if this is the result, three games, three wins puts a whole new perspective on the Imps fortunes but, such has been the poor run previously that City are far from out of the woods, especially after last seasons experience where the team went on a similarly good run only to implode at the death.

Fans who had written off manager David Holdsworth as a dead man walking are also having to revise their opinion of the great communicator. Is this now the real deal or can we look forward to some more ineffectual tinkering once funds allow? It has been commented upon that, now City are fielding a more settled side success is following. Can the manager curb his meddling nature?

On the subject of the manager fans seem to be more willing to give the benefit of the considerable doubts they had, myself included and the view seems to be, let’s look at the situation at the end of the season. If this form continues then possibly a reasonable contract should be discussed. Any return to the abject failure of the previous few weeks then definitely not.

All this does rather detract from the good work Holdsworth has done, the trimming of the wages bill and the communication with the fans has been both needed and carried out well so it’s not all criticism but the future has to be the form at the moment and not previously. A club of Lincoln City’s stature should be performing the way we have of late at this level and fans satisfaction and the gates for home games have dropped well below where they should be.

This brings us to tonight’s home game against Cambridge. City have done well against teams bumping along the bottom in the last week. Now is a chance to see how they do against a team doing rather better. Not so much better than the Imps though and they certainly need not fear anyone after the run they have been on.