Andrew Abbott's Blog

Friday, 31 August 2012

Imps look to pull the plug on the Fleet.

Liam Daish, Ebbsfleet United’s manager has just established himself as the Fleets longest serving manager, being at the helm since 2005 during which period Lincoln City have got through eight managers and presided over a remorseless slide to non league obscurity and financial uncertainty. It’s easy to say things would have been better with stability but you have to have the right man at the helm and even when a majority of fans perceived we had the right man in the hotseat there were those who disagreed and he moved on. That’s football for you.

I wrote last week that City really needed to register a win to banish the early season jitters and, as many of us half expected, they did not do so against Macclesfield to quickly resurrect their habit of losing at home although a late equaliser gave the team a share of the points at Gateshead. Lets give thanks for small mercies. City, for as long as I can remember have rarely made the most of a bank holiday double header and this August has been no different so, at the risk of sounding like Groundhog Day, City really need to register a win to banish the early season jitters.

Since the weekend the squad has been revitalised by the addition of Frenchman Mamadou Fofana, the manager having a little chuckle to himself by making comparison with Claude Makelele and Michael Essien but his tongue was firmly in his cheek. Luke Daley and Mark McCammon moving on. Daley perhaps provoking a bit of regret in fans eyes as they had enjoyed his performances for the Imps. Again, such is life for those of a red and white persuasion these days, perhaps things will look up a bit once Josh Gowling moves on. Fans are thinking this may be sooner rather than later and this will free up a sizeable chunk of the wage bill. Manager Holdsworth was on BBC Radio Lincolnshire however to say there will be no more additions, we shall see.

Ebbsfleet have a similar record to Lincoln City, they won on the opening day of the season and have not done so since. That looks like a recipe for stalemate but supporters will be hoping for better and indeed they do need to register a win to banish the early season jitters. Now where did I hear that before?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Mervyn Stutter’s pick of the fringe and what we picked from it.

If you go up to the Edinburgh festival/fringe one thing you must do early on is to get a ticket to see Mervyn Stutter’s pick of the fringe. Merv as he likes to be known has been producing his review show for as long as he cares to remember and for my money we should see this actor/comedian/singer, well I was going to say more but seeing as we don’t see him at all on TV I’ll rephrase that. We should see Mervyn Stutter on TV. He is actually on the radio but I’d not heard of him until Edinburgh.

Merv tells jokes-ish, sings satirical ditties and interviews others with shows in the fringe. He’s an old fashioned presenter, he sings songs he’s made up to parody the rich and lampoon the famous, and he’s old fashioned. Surely there’s a market for a gentler satire? There’s a market for the pick of the fringe show sure enough. We caught the final show of the run so we saw the presentations for the pick of the fringe awards.

What you get with this show is a five minute excerpt from several shows in the fringe. Then you can decide if you want to see any (or all) of them. We saw a singer, a mime artist an improv act based on Chaucer (only at the fringe!) an excerpt from a play, tap dancers a stand up comedienne and a singer from one of the venues, and it was the venue that had won the award. All were judged best in show this year. An hour and a half’s entertainment for the price of an hour and your research done for you. Great value. Which leads us to-

Lost Fingers play lost in the eighties at the Famous Spiegeltent.

You’ll want to know what a spiegeltent is and what makes it famous. Well a spiegeltent is a mobile entertainment venue, a cross between a circus big top and a fairground ride. Spiegel is mirror in German although the tent was made in Belgium. What made it famous? You know that line in The Lincolnshire Poacher where it refers to famous Lincolnshire? I don’t know what that’s about either.

Anyway it’s a lovely, mysterious, slightly sleazy auditorium, they do burlesque in there, that kind of thing. We’d no idea what we were booking when we got our tickets.

Lost Fingers is a reference to jazz guitarists Django Reinhardt who lost two fingers and developed his distinct guitar style to overcome his disability. If you like Reinhardt you’ll love Lost Fingers. They’re a Canadian band so they sing a lot in French. They did a rendition of various eighties classics even including Sam Fox and Michael Jackson not to mention Soft Cell. All in a jazz style. It was a surreal experience but such a musical pleasure I downloaded one of their albums straight away. We sat on wooden fold away seats straining for a good view. By the finish several of the audience were on their feet dancing. Were it not for the fact that the seats were so damned uncomfortable I’d have sat through it all again, that and the £18 entrance fee.

So there you have our Edinburgh Fringe experience, missing out most of the pubs. And the traffic. And the weather. Get yourself up there next year if you can. You won’t regret it.

                         The spiegetent from the inside, Lost Fingers on stage. Photo courtesy of Lost Fingers website.

Beyond the Fringe. Hibernian v St Johnstone and other delicacies.

Edinburgh in August means the festival which in turn has been swamped by something which has attached itself and become much greater, the fringe. If you’ve not been you should if only to sample the atmosphere of the world’s greatest arts festival in one of the world’s great cities.

Don’t be put off either by the term arts festival. Though there are highbrow events most are down to earth, homespun even in a way that would make our own comedy festival seem quite sophisticated. There’s that much on in Edinburgh that every hall, cellar, nook and cranny is pressed into service.

Ordinary life still goes on in the city though and no visit to Scotland’s capital is complete without a visit to Easter Road, home of the green half of auld reekie, Hibernian. My visits normally herald a home defeat, a result that had been depressingly familiar last season where the team conspired to burden their fans with a cup run, all the way to the final, and a relegation fight. What is it with me and struggling teams?

However, a strange thing has happened. Hibs have got themselves a manager who knows what he’s doing, Pat Fenlon, and even though it’s only August, Hibees are dreaming of better times. In fact with no Rangers this term, Hibs fans are really letting their imaginations run wild. At the time of writing, Hibs are joint top of the SPL.

All of the above were far from the minds of fans in the first half as Hibernian huffed and puffed making their opponents look like the home team and it was they who were knocking the ball about leaving Hibs to chase after it. James Mc Pake, the former Coventry City man was all that stood between Hibs and yet another home defeat, he was later to be awarded the man of the match trophy a richly deserved accolade in my view but the fans I chatted to in the bar afterwards disagreed. Hibs somehow managed to get almost to half time level and then the sort of thing that happens when you’re having a bit of luck, they scored completely against the run of play.

It occurred to me that the home team needed to score in the first ten minutes of the second half and this they did, courtesy of Doyle, they never looked back. Celtic await however.

On to some comedy and a curious cellar down a spooky passage deep under Edinburgh was the venue for John Robins’ incredible scenes. Billed as comedy’s best kept secret, Robins has had a bit of TV exposure, appearing on Russell Howard’s good news. How can I put this? If you’ve ever been to Lincoln’s Red Herring Comedy Club, Robins would have been act one or two. Still, it was a decent laugh and a good start to our fringe experience. The venue was tiny; the artist waited behind a screen for the “auditorium” to fill up, did his gig and then retreated behind the screen again for everyone to go. Yep, it’s that homespun. There are no encores, well not unless your name is David Hasselhoff, the venues are that booked out that gigs take place one after the other, shows are short, then it’s on to the next one.

The Guildford Arms would probably be the best bar in Edinburgh were it not for the Café Royal. The Cafe Royal trumps the Guildford by virtue of the fact that is probably the best bar in the world, in looks if nothing else. In typical Edinburgh fashion, the Guildford was holding its own jazz/blues/folk festival. There we saw one of the highlights of the fringe. The host act were Yard of Ale who were an ok-ish Scottish Folk combo but their guests were the fabulous FC Ukulele. THIS was the best kept secret of the Edinburgh Fringe. Fronted by a cute blonde this group really could play. Sultans of Swing played on a ukulele? In fact several ukuleles,

"You can't say you've experienced the Fringe until you've seen a ukulele group play an eight-minute version of 'Sultans Of Swing'. That might not be strictly true, but that experience captures the spirit of the folk and blues shows at the Guildford Arms. After an entertaining set of folk classics from hosts Yard Of Ale, guests F.C. Ukulele put in an energetic performance, full of memorable covers, from 'Mr Brightside' to 'Baker Street'. Artistically, the music you're likely to see at the Guildford Arms is unlikely to change the face of the music scene, but it doesn't aim to. The atmosphere is lively, and the bands serve a valuable purpose in keeping the traditional British pub culture alive and vibrant."

That was a review from last year and they can’t be any worse because they were absolutely brilliant. Quite simply the best night we’ve had in a long long time.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Imps have their work cut out to prevent Macc wielding the knife.

After the unaccustomed home win in the first game of the season we’ve all been brought back to reality with back to back defeats, admittedly narrow ones and against sides who are expecting to be, to quote a very overused phrase at the moment, there or thereabouts. Most Imps would, one suspects, be quite pleased to see their side win at home on a regular basis and do their losing out of eyesight so to speak on some foreign field if that’s not to mangle an oft used saying too much.

Unfortunately, the way the opening fixtures are for City, after that initial very pleasant surprise, two losing games later the Imps find themselves, well not exactly looking down the barrel of a gun, it is only August after all, but certainly in need of another home win. This being Lincoln City the fates appear to be conspiring against us if the stories we are drip fed through the Lincolnshire Echo and, we must believe, emanating from the club or the manager at least, stories of virtually half the team being potentially unavailable. There or thereabouts was of course a favourite saying of the sainted Keith Alexander and the title of Rob Bradley’s book on said manager and these stories of doom and gloom have a familiar ring and are a reminder of those wonderful times when Keith would be all over the paper and the radio all week bemoaning the fact that his over parsimonious chairman was expecting him to conjure up a team from nothing and that they were all injured and he and the kitman were likely to be on the bench, only to find that come Saturday everyone was in the rudest of health. Whether there is an element of gamesmanship in any of these pronouncements we shall see come Saturday.

Whatever the situation with available players Macclesfield will take some beating and the side are unrecognisable from last season with new players added only this week in the form of Scott Brown, from Everton no less, Rob Evans and Carl Martin. Macc suffered an away defeat on the first day of the season but recovered to record subsequent home wins to Wrexham and Dartford. Imps have fielded the same starting side for their previous three games, itself a novelty for fans given the hitherto revolving door policy at the 12th Imp Sincil Bank Stadium but that will surely change tomorrow, given what we have been told.

Lincolnshire this week.

No need to head over to Munich this autumn, the Oktoberfest is coming to Lincolnshire. Lederhosen, oompah bands and German beer will be in good supply at the Epic Centre, Lincolnshire Showground. Traditional dress will be encouraged for the one day mini festival on October 13. Dirk Terjung, one of the men behind the idea, said being at Oktoberfest was a unique experience.

"It is a very positive, fun-loving event where people can get together and just have a great time," he said.

"It has a community feel to it. It's unique and people come from across Germany and all over the world to enjoy it."

With bratwurst and other German delicacies available locals will think the Christmas Market has come early.

A gardener with Crowders Nursery in Horncastle doesn’t just get his kicks from herbaceous borders. By day Jamie Key tends the plants at the well known plant centre but Jamie’s passion is kick boxing and he’s got the breaks and bruises to prove it. The 23 year old will fly to Canada in October to fight for the world title thanks in no small measure to his employers who have granted him extended leave to attend the various events. In addition, Robert Crowder is paying for the Canada trip. Jamie took up kick boxing at the age of 11 saying the sport saved him from ending up the wrong side of the tracks. “I suppose I was a bit of a bad boy to be honest. It has helped me transform my life; it’s definitely kept me on the straight and narrow.”

Lincoln resembled one of those TV programs you flick on to on cable when you’re about to go to bed today. The UK rescue challenge will see 130 teams compete against each other in a series of rescue simulations. Members of the public are free to watch and see demonstrations of rescues from water, a high rise building and a collapsed structure. In addition the new Lincolnshire fire and rescue flood response power boats will be demonstrated. The main competition will see teams compete to rescue victims from a mock car crash for which they will be allowed twenty minutes.

Members of the Egyptian Paralympic team who have been training in Lincolnshire prior to the big event have been struck by the welcome yellowbellys have given them. "The people have been the highlight for us," said spokesman Hossam El-Shobary

"They have been warm and welcoming.

"We have enjoyed our time in Lincoln, we have walked round the beautiful cathedral and enjoyed eating in the restaurants.

"But it is the people, all the staff and all the volunteers have seen to all our needs.

"It has made a big difference and been very good."

Mr El-Shobary said the facilities have been first class. "For me, the table tennis facilities at the University have been brilliant, but when I speak to the coaches in the other squads they have been really impressed, too," he said.

"It is ideal for us and our preparations are going well."

"The preparations have been perfect," Mr El-Shobary added.

"We are pleased with how it has gone and we are excited about heading to London now.

"I've heard some really good things about the Olympic Park and also the table tennis facilities there."

Crimpers at a Lincoln area salon have told how they had a lucky escape when a car smashed through a wall. Stylist at Hair Lounge in Waddington had to have their wits about them as they pulled customers out of the path of a Vauxhall Corsa as it careered through the shop front. Owner Sophie Emmerson told how she reacted to the drama. "By thinking of the worst that could have happened, you realise how lucky we were. The woman in the car had a burn on her arm from an air bag and everyone else was just bruised.

"It would have been about 10am and had this happened 20 minutes later there would have been a 6-year-old child sitting on the sofa in the window.

"To be honest, we never even heard the window smash – the revving of the engine was so loud.

"The car came in and I pulled my client away from it.

"One of my stylists, Cheryl Wright, had her hands on the bonnet and was running backwards with the car.

"Cheryl's client stood up and got out of her chair.

"The car caught the customer's leg and she has some bruising but the chair hit a full-length mirror and went through to the other side of the wall."

Mrs Wright said. "There was the roar of the engine, I could see it was on the pavement and then it came through.

"The next thing I remember is putting my hands on the bonnet and it pushing me backwards.

"Sophie pushed me out of the way but I don't remember that.

"When I came to my senses I found myself on the other side of the salon."

Well that’s enough of hair raising events. I’m off to the Edinburgh fringe. Enough barnet puns. Have a good weekend.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Threesy not very peasy.

Match three of the season and its one win, two losses reflecting the fact that we’ve had one home game and two away. There was a time when that program would have produced an entirely different point’s haul but Imps fans will, presumably, welcome a scenario whereby the team garner maximum points at home and hope to mug some away. The fact that they haven’t yet is perhaps a reflection of the strength of opposition rather than any perceived weakness in the City team and they were two narrow defeats against well fancied teams so no real pointers as to how the season might pan out for Imps.

One giant fly in the ointment is the news that striker Rob Duffy is likely to be out for several weeks due to an ankle injury picked up at Newport. The perils of a small squad but its needs must at City these days and presumably it’s better to have a competitive first team and be a bit short on the bench than a larger squad of jack of all trades and masters of none. Whilst that remains the case though we will surely have to put up with these narrow defeats where a bit more class available might have tipped the balance. It’s not as if we haven’t got used to that over the years.

John Vickers’ match report on indicates a game where Newport were quickly out of the traps to establish a two goal lead but good pressure from the Imps put them back into contention with a goal, once again from Jamie Taylor but City could not find the strike that would have given them a share of the spoils and they and their supporters returned home musing what might have been.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Out with the old, in with the New-port

Did you see what I did there? Newport have a new stadium this season but just in case they don’t like it, have an opt out clause whereby they can move back to their old Newport Stadium. It’s a bit like when your children first move out of the family home.

Rodney Parade is certainly suiting the appropriately named Exiles as they have got off to a storming start ably assisted by our old friend Jefferson Louis who has scored in each of their two matches as Newport scorched to the top of the table. They score lots of goals but concede too, so a mirror image of our own heroes who will need to keep it very tight at the back if the Imps are to return to England with any points.

As with City it’s far too early to read anything into the results so far, will they keep it up? Who knows but it’s been exciting enough for Newport fans with eight goals scored and three conceded. Lincoln meanwhile, as we all know, performed creditably to take the points at home to Kidderminster but just could not find the guile, or inspiration, to get anything from the trip to Cambridge. Many commentators were saying about that performance that the teams were well matched but Cambridge had the edge on the bench, a fact that manager Holdsworth is very well aware of.

City now know what they will have to pay Gainsborough Trinity for the services of Andrew Boyce and out new defender is very well acquainted with Jefferson Louis too as the pair played together at The Northolme. He said of their opponents and Louis,

"They are flying, but that's something we will thrive on,"

"And we know we will cause them problems despite the fact they have scored eight in the last two games.

"The boys are desperate to get back out there and make sure we come away from Saturday's game with a result.

"We played very well at Cambridge and if we can reproduce that kind of performance then we will come home with a result."

"He is going to want to smash me up a bit, but I would not expect anything less from Jeff to be honest,"

"If he is on your team then he is brilliant to have because defenders hate playing against him because he is so physical.

"I saw what he was capable of at Gainsborough and he is a very good player.

"I know it didn't work out for him there, but he came to Lincoln and was magnificent.

"But I am ready for him. I am sure there will be a lot of banter between us, but I am relishing the challenge.

"Unfortunately, I know target men get a rough ride, but personally I think you need one no matter what level you are at.

"They have the ability to take the pressure off you and bring others into play.

"We have Rob Duffy at Lincoln and he's been brilliant for us. He's won all his headers and he is very strong.

"It's a great option to have."

Lincolnshire this week.

Previously in this blog we checked on the progress of Eve the seal who found herself rescued by a seal sanctuary in Germany. She was fattened up, fitted with a tracking device and released in the hope that she would find her way back to Iceland. Instead she headed to the Orkney Islands and then down the east coast where she was again rescued. Authorities at Natureland in Skegness wanted to take her back to Iceland but were refused permission. They have now decided it would be in her best interests to stay at the sanctuary. Richard Yeadon from Natureland reports that the seal is enjoying life. "She seems very chilled out in the resident seal pool, enjoying five meals of the best quality herrings a day.

"I'm sure we have made the right decision for her."

Plans for a massive renovation of Lincoln Castle are to go on show. The work will provide a permanent home for Lincolns copy of the Magna Carta, which will be 800 years old in 2015. More of the old prison will be opened and it will be possible to walk round more of the walls. Councillor Eddy Poll, executive member for cultural services, said: "This is an opportunity to find out about what will be happening up at the castle over the next couple of years - improvements that will make it one of the UK's top historic attractions.

"Not only will this ensure that this local landmark is kept in good condition for future generations, it'll also attract thousands more visitors, providing a sizeable boost for the local tourism economy."

Gainsborough MP Edward Leigh has explained why Parliamentary funding of his Italian lessons was good value for money. The outspoken Catholic politician explains :-

"I started taking Italian lessons when the Government was suggesting I be made Ambassador to the Vatican," he said.

"It was a role which I eventually turned down because I wanted to continue representing our part of Lincolnshire in Parliament.

"Currently, I am chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See (Vatican) and involved in the British-Italian parliamentary group as well.

"I think I'm the only Member of Parliament to have given a speech in the Palace of Westminster in Italian.

"It happened when we had the privilege of welcoming a deputation of Italian MPs and they were very touched.

"I'm also in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

"Every country in the Council of Europe makes an effort to speak English, so why shouldn't we try and speak their languages as well?

"That said, having obtained a working knowledge of Italian, I am no longer taking lessons through the Foreign Office."

The University of Lincoln was expecting to receive about 5000 calls from prospective students through clearing yesterday. Whilst there are spaces available, Drama, Dance and Social Work all filled up. Biomedical Science, Accountancy and Finance, English and History have all been very popular. Lincolnshire students have bucked the national trend in their grades. Results have been down on previous years in the country but not here. Must be the fresh air and wide open skies.

Residents of leafy Woodhall Spa are up in arms over the last bank in the village closing down. There are about 50 independent shops in the resort and lots of wealthy residents but that hasn’t stopped HSBC, the worlds local bank, deciding that Woodhall was rather too local and shutting the branch for good leaving only the Post Office. Ironically, holders of most other banks accounts can service them through the Post Office but not HSBC. David Clarke, chairman of Woodhall Spa Parish Council, said they had taken their business elsewhere because of the closure.

"We have a lot of residents who are not quite in their prime and they like face-to-face contact," he said.

"They don't really like ATMs, they want to speak to somebody and I think HSBC are really losing out on that customer relations ability and that's where we're suffering.

"People who want face-to-face will have to go to Horncastle. I don't see why anyone should travel that far just to go to a bank... when it should be dealt with locally."

In a statement HSBC said: "The branch is only open for limited hours during the week and not on weekends and customer usage of it has fallen significantly over the past few years.

"Customers are now increasingly using branches where they work, or they are using the 24-hour convenience of internet or telephone banking.

"Closing a branch is never an easy decision but we are working with the small number of customers who use the branch to see if we can help them reorganise their finances."

That’s it for another week in Lincolnshire. Would be quite nice to nip over to Woodhall Spa for an ice cream or a pint but don’t forget to take plenty of cash. Have a good one.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Time to reflect.

There was a time before the London Olympics began that I really feared the spectacle would resemble the spoof documentary Twenty Twelve rather more closely than we would all have liked. The G4S debacle seemed to indicate that all was not well in the preparations.

All that seems a million miles away now as we digest the magnificence of the closing ceremony and in particular the success of the Great Britain team. The games went ahead with no security issues that we were made aware of. London’s creaky public transport system was discovered to be not so decrepit as we thought. The press, usually desperate to find some way of showing these things in the worst possible light realised the nations preoccupation was the success of our athletes and the way the games were going, starting with Danny Boyles triumph of an opening ceremony.

Quite what Alex Salmond made of all those Scots wrapped in the union flag we don’t know but he must have been the only one in the entire country wishing failure on the proceedings. The truth was no one cared which part of the Union the athletes came from, if they were Brits they were cheered to the rafters. There were some unlikely looking Brits too and no one more so than Mo Farah. What a lovely story that made. Mo’s father is British and the family evacuated from war torn Somalia when he was a child. The rest is history and the crowds attitude was if you’re in the GB vest, you’re one of us and you’re going to be supported as if you had red white and blue coursing through your veins.

Particular highlights for me were the cycling, that’s my passion. Brad Wiggins in particular then later on the track with Sir Chris Hoy bringing down the curtain on a truly magnificent Olympic career, Victoria Pendleton, so strong yet fragile and all the others as the gold’s silver and bronze piled up. The rowers, I just love that commentator and who can forget Gemma Gibbons in the judo, so delighted with her silver medal sobbing all over her opponent?

Where do we go from here? We’re a happier nation, no doubt about that but can we keep that up as the days grow shorter? As for me I’m definitely getting the bike out this weekend. If there’s time.

                                  The big screen in Lincoln where thousands gathered to
                                  cheer on the Brits.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Cool finish on a warm day sets City on their way.

Speaking in a trailer for BBC Radio Lincolnshire for the forthcoming season, Michael Hortin ventured the opinion that City fans would see a more competitive side this term, certainly more so than had been the case for the last few seasons. I was sceptical but having watched the season opener I’m inclined to the view that he just might be right. City dominated the first half but saw just a Jamie Taylor finish as reward for their efforts.

The second half took a more predictable tone with the Imps retreating back ever further inviting their opponents to attack them and when the sanctuary of the corner flag was sought with six minutes remaining, that’s twelve minutes from the end of the game with injury time, not that the players were to know that, the crowd were sensing that maybe this was taking caution a little too far.

Nevertheless, City held on to record a rare first win of the season and a home win at that, traditionally our Achilles heel even back to Keith’s time. This habit of trying to sit on a one goal advantage had the home fans biting their nails and after a first half of relative superiority the home support were expecting more and fans were trying to encourage their side to get further forward and defend up the pitch.

This lack of ambition late on is going to come back and haunt City, who badly need to get more fans through the turnstiles at the 12th Imp Sincil Bank Stadium, if they’re not careful. There were several good opportunities to double the score including a free kick in a good position just outside the box which was scooted into the corner to general groans.

Still, mustn’t grumble about a rare winning start, the new players impressed, Jamie Taylor produced an all action display topped off with a good goal, lobbing the keeper when the ball dropped to his feet from Dan Gray and he was awarded a well deserved man of the match accolade. The players looked fit and sharp even in sapping warmth and overcame a mini injury crisis to get the season off to the perfect start.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

In a sure sign that the year is rolling on, the nights are certainly drawing in and there was the first indication that autumn is round the corner the other morning with a good old misty start. All this means, yes you guessed it, the new football season is upon us. Those of a glass half full disposition will be thinking, here we go, it can’t be as bad as last year and the year before and those of the half empty persuasion will be saying oh yes it can.

For long suffering Imps fans a mixed close season. It seems an age ago now that the new signings were rattling in to Sincil Bank, sorry the 12th Imp Sincil Bank Stadium. We all thought we might be entering a new dawn with early team building. Then the announcement that the squad was complete, to general scepticism admittedly, then one or two more and the disheartening effect of the Sam Smith affair.

It’s easy to say the Sam Smith business is symptomatic of the way things have been at City lately but of course the club did not invite the offer, or we presume not and once the offers were coming in, having an unsettling effect on the player no doubt, there was only one outcome, getting the maximum cash out of the situation which hopefully was the case.

Who is now going to get the goals, I hear you ask? Well, who was going to get them anyway, many of us will have been thinking not really having had the benefit of seeing Smith perform to any great degree. Who indeed is going to keep them out at the other end? This question clouded by the news that Josh Gowling is on the transfer list which didn’t ought to have been a surprise given his history with the manager. It’s financial is the answer from Mr Holdsworth. This brings further questions as to the financial stability of the club given that one wage earner is off the payroll who may or may not be replaced. The transfer fee realised may or may not be released into the playing budget we hear. Or part of it. Or none of it, the board hasn’t decided.

All will be revealed over the coming months. We may have a new name for the stadium but there is a very familiar feel to the start of another season, familiar of late that is. There was a time, not long ago, when the start of the season could be greeted with great anticipation. Maybe there are those feeling that time old euphoria at the start of another season. If you are, I’ll have a pint of whatever you’re on.

Lincolnshire this week.

Skegness town councillors were left feeling far from jolly when they saw the proposals for a new statue of the resorts fisherman mascot intended for the railway station concourse. The figure is normally depicted skipping along with arms outstretched but this was decreed too much of a temptation for local children to swing from and the new design shows the iconic (and copyrighted) Jolly, prepared for Lincolnshire County Council, with his arms by his side. All this comes shortly after a spat between the town and East Lindsey District Council over unflattering comparisons with other resorts that left town officials embarrassed. Skegness Mayor Mark Anderson, said: "It looked like a Buddha, it was like a gargoyle basically. It was completely against what our image of our town is.

"People and businesses were upset by the publicity surrounding the poster campaign so we certainly do not need this now."

Chris Briggs, from Lincolnshire County Council, said: "There has been a recent accident at the station involving some of the new materials and we are aware there is a court case pending on that.

"So what we didn't want to do was produce another design which would entice children or whoever to swing on the arms of the statue, which could also damage it, and may lead to some claims.”

Just what Skeggy didn’t need especially now the sun has come out to rescue the disaster of the British summer although the good spell is predicted to be of the blink and you’ll miss it variety.

The Red Arrows are due to perform in Russia this weekend after a gap of 22 years since they last appeared in the country. The display is part of celebrations of the centenary of the Russian Federation Air Force and will be held 25 miles from Moscow .Maria Vassilieva of the BBC’s Moscow office said "I believe that the Red Arrows are quite famous in Russia,

"The kind of show they are doing is very different and the show which the Red Arrows bring to Russia is described as more elegant and stylish.

"These are the words which are used to describe them in all the advertisements which we can see now in Moscow."

A spokesman for the RAF added "This is an exciting opportunity for the Red Arrows to work with our Russian partners on a high-profile event, which will enhance the reputation of the UK's armed forces throughout the world."

Two weapons described as “magic swords” in today’s Echo have gone on display at Boston’s Guildhall museum. The swords are from the 13th or 14th century and are inscribed with runes that have not been deciphered. It is thought these writings were intended to invoke special powers in the owner. The swords were found in the River Witham and may even have been placed in the waterway, which was a major thoroughfare, deliberately as a votive offering to please the Gods. The artifacts were found in the river near Bardney. It is possible the inscriptions were not visible to the naked eye but have been revealed due to corrosion caised by their immersion.

Lord Monson, aristocratic owner of Burton Hall has turned to former Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick in an effort to solve the mystery of his sons death in a Kenyan police cell. Alexander Monson was arrested for smoking cannabis near his mothers home in the coastal resort of Diani south of Mombasa. "Brian is there to give me advice and tell me things so that it adds weight to my statements," Lord Monson said.

"He was very sympathetic about what happened to Alexander and I wanted to add him to the panel of advisors for the charitable foundation.

"I wanted him to get involved in the charitable foundation where I am using my son's case to help tackle some of the issues with policing in third world countries and he will be valuable to me in finding out what happened to Alexander.

"He is personally advising me and, since he has the ear of Nick Clegg, he is very useful. It is very sad that this young sprig of Lincolnshire has met his end like this so hopefully the foundation and the help of Brian Paddick can stop it happening to others."

A sombre end to this week’s news from Lincolnshire. Don’t think that has inspired me to visit that particular region. Wherever you’re heading, or if you’re staying put. Have a good weekend.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Lincolnshire this week.

Lincoln can look forward to a state of the art science park by the end of 2013, the University of Lincoln has announced. The facility, similar to ones in Welwyn Garden City and Cambridge, will be a mixture of college departments and commercial buildings, housing the School of Life Sciences and a new School of Pharmacy. Mary Stuart, the university's vice chancellor, said: "This will bring massive benefits to the city in terms of employment and inward investment.

"Highly skilled professionals who have previously looked outside Lincolnshire for career opportunities will be attracted to the area or encouraged to stay.

"The potential to bring in new investors and high-tech businesses to boost the local economy is enormous."

The development is a joint one with Lincolnshire Coop and Ursula Lidbetter, chief executive of the Coop, said: "We think there's a huge opportunity to turn this underused site into a stimulating place to work and study.

"It's an ideal location for a science park as it's so close to the university campus and Lincoln city centre."

The initial, joint investment will be £10m and planning permission will be sought later this year.

This years Skegness illuminations will be the biggest and best yet, according to organizers. The big switch on has emerged from the umbrella of the SO festival to be an event in it’s own right, once again. The extravaganza will feature a whole days entertainment this year. Spokesman George Facey said: “We received rave reports about last year’s event and I’m sure this one will be even better and bring extra visitors and business to the town, which is what the economy needs.”

The day will feature dance and fitness workshops and as the big moment ariives it will be preceded by talented local singers and dancers and Hollyoakes and Over the Rainbow star Steph Davis in what is described as a spellbinding show.

It’ll be here before you know it, the ice rink is to make a return to Lincoln this Christmas. Organisers Lincoln Business Improvement Group said previously the rink was unviable and it has not made an appearance for two years. Quite what has happened to make it viable this time we don’t know but the popular feature will be back on City Square for the festive period. Rachel Hanson, events and promotions organiser at Lincoln BIG, said: "It just makes Christmas - everybody loves it.

"It's similar to now as you walk through town and you see the beach and the Olympics screen - it's great to see children and families all enjoying it together."

The Echo, Stagecoach and Lincs FM are sponsoring the ice rink.

A new world record has been set in Lincolnshire but before speed freaks get over excited it’s for the most number of tractors simultaneously ploughing a field. Yes, we know how to set the world alight. Helen Rainthorpe organized the bid in memory of her father, John. More than £21000 was raised for Cancer Research during the ploughing marathon. Helen Rainthorpe believes the bid may stand the test of time. "I think the record is a one-off effort," she said. "It needs that community spirit to get this number of vehicles together.

"Even in America where they have the numbers, I don't think travelling the distance to get together could be done."

"I've been blown away by the sheer number of people who have come to support it and the Quadtrac drivers who have come such long distances. I want to say a huge thank you to each and every one of them."

Adjudicator Anna Orford from Guiness World Records said the achievement had a clear Lincolnshire identity.

"I didn't know what to expect but even when they were lined up at the start it just looked stunning," she said. "And then when they put their lights on and the crowd cheered it was fantastic because they knew they had the record.

"Every record is special and with this it is very specific to the region – it is very much a Lincolnshire record."

Well it’s a bit late to wish you a good weekend but it’s certainly turned out that way at the Olympics with Super Saturday a definite understatement. Here’s hoping for some more medals.

Have a good week.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

You can never have too many Imps.

It was announced several days ago that the name our stadium lottery had been won by fans fundraising group 12th Imp. The group are closely affiliated with the Vital Lincoln website.

The board at Lincoln City naturally reserved the right to approve the name put forward by the winning ticket holder and Steve Prescott was duly wheeled out to announce on BBC Radio Lincolnshire this morning to a distinctly underwhelmed Rod Whiting that henceforth the football ground would be known as the 12th Imp Sincil Bank Stadium. Whether there was any embellishment to the original proposal by 12th Imp by the board we will not know but at least the renaming was carried out in a dignified manner unlike a certain very high profile North East club one could name.

The group raised a staggering £1500 which led to 30 entries in the competition. Although the initiative did not produce anything like the hoped for £50000 nevertheless the draw did see £21000 for the playing budget which, I have to admit was greatly in excess of the amount I thought would be raised so well done to the club and particularly well done to 12th Imp. For a community club, a much used and much doubted epithet by many fans, it’s perhaps fitting that the stadium should now be named, essentially, after the fans who are any small clubs one constant feature, their 12th man. Again and again our fans have come to the clubs rescue and to their aid and here we have another shining example. One bit of bright news in what could be another dismal season with the Sam Smith affair putting a dampener on any pre season optimism.