Wednesday, 24 April 2013
Not my words, I hasten to add but taken from an anonymous contribution to the www.lincoln.vitalfootball.co.uk website but whoever gave that quote never spoke a truer word. Or at least we hope it’s true because if Lincoln City haven’t woken up after the near miss we’ve just had then we’re all in trouble.
When you look back it’s been another desperate season yet there have been good points, principally the cup run and particularly the defeat of Walsall even if we did catch them at just the right time, and that wonderful flourish to round off the season and cast Stockport into the pit. Some justice in that actually as, if my memory serves me correctly Stockport were one of those clubs that managed to escape relegation that first awful time when automatic relegation, as opposed to the old boys club that was the system previously, determined which, if any, teams were to be replaced following a finish in the bottom four. Talk about it’s not what you know it’s who you know. Our own Colin Murphy was the Hatters manager and therefore saviour then but at least he had the good grace to throw in his lot with us to rescue us at the first time of asking.
Just one more quote from Vitals, I’m not here to copy other websites’ stuff but this does sum up exactly how I felt at the game:-
'The season was so bad it nearly finished me off as a supporter, the relief and tension I felt when Power took and scored that penalty against Tamworth made me realise that I still wanted to watch the Imps on a regular basis.'
My thoughts exactly. You can read the article by following the link above.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Now that the excitement is over for another season it makes quite a pleasant change to have, not an inquest but an appraisal of where we now are as fans and club. Lincoln City have made the first move praising the fans both for their support over the season and particularly in the final game, away at Hyde. Hyde directors and VIP’s we are told were very complementary about the Imps support both in terms of numbers and general good nature. It does help when your team produce the sort of performance that is going to delight any set of supporters but as they say, we’ll take that.
Furthermore the board of directors have broken with recent tradition and negotiated a three year contract with manager Gary Simpson. Rather surprisingly the fact that Simpson has even been confirmed let alone granted a long contract has raised eyebrows amongst some fans. David Holdsworth’s efforts produced such a poor points return, eclipsed by his successor, that one would have supposed the new man would have been welcomed with open arms as I’m sure he is by most of us worn down by watching such unsuccessful campaigns lately. A three year deal though? Time will tell as ever.
Simpson did well at Macclesfield before falling victim to the curse of the lower league manager, player sales and budget cuts. Well Bob Dorrian has some news for us. The board are looking at supplying a larger fund this time, provided gates increase. In this regard Simpson has shown he can do this in the short time available to him culminating in that marvellous show on Saturday, not that away support provides a penny for the away team but it has shown interest is there.
As ever, how the season pans out and how the finances hold out depends on the sort of start the team can get off to but the next big financial hurdle, season ticket sales, is taking place against a background of considerably more optimism. We’ll take that too.
Monday, 22 April 2013
Strange feeling isn’t it? City finish the season in style and all of a sudden we’re remembering what it is like to summon up a bit of enthusiasm and start to look forward to our football again.
A little bird tells me that there is a possibility of some news on the financial front. Quite significant news, if my sources are correct and sure enough Bob Dorrian is in, well it would be this evening’s paper if the city ran to such a thing, he’s featured in an interview with the Echo’s website that I would guess happened last weekend as Leigh Curtis commented on something that was said, that there would be increased investment in the team next season.
That would seem to tie in with what I’ve heard and there’s no doubt that lack of investment in players has certainly been the Imps Achilles heel of late. Whether the board thought that gates would hold up better than they did is debatable but they haven’t although fans have not entirely given up yet as the last few attendances have shown and certainly Saturdays magnificent show of support for the team must be encouraging both for those in charge of City’s meagre finances and, for that matter on players who might be considering joining the Imps.
There is much debate on City’s pricing policy on the message boards. Certainly I can’t see a reduction in gate prices and presumably these are largely set by the league but, in my view it’s not so much the price of entry, although that does seem awfully expensive for this level of football, it’s the feeling that it’s a lot of money to pay out in order to not have a terribly good time. There’s a saying, a fool and his money are easily parted but if that’s the case then Imps fans have been showing they’re no fools but of course we knew that didn’t we?
I think there’s plenty of evidence to show that Lincoln football fans are still willing to spend their Saturday afternoons at Sincil Bank and, I’m tempted to say all that’s required is a good start to the season, if only it were that easy but if a good competitive squad can be put together and the best of the current team can be retained and early results are encouraging then the fans may return either directly putting more money in the coffers or at least giving the board the confidence to invest further or even borrow, sensibly, to invest in the team knowing that the public of the Lincoln area are falling back in love with Lincoln City. You don’t really want to go shopping do you?
Sunday, 21 April 2013
That's an old song isn't it? And for much of the season past Lincoln City have been singing the same old song. Down down deeper and down springs to mind. This time though, City or rather their manager Gary Simpson, had an answer and in order to have an answer you have to have a plan. When Imps fans heard it they were sceptical to say the least. The Kidderminster and Luton matches were not worth sacrificing tired limbs over not to mention players who were close to a ban. City did not put out their strongest sides for those games, with inevitable consequences but instead the manager saved his best formations for winnable games and it was those games, coupled with the run of four games undefeated, that banished the spectre of relegation culminating in the remarkable 5.1 win yesterday at Hyde.
There are those, and I will admit I was one of them, who wondered if, in ditching David Holdsworth and appointing Gary Simpson, City had shot themselves in the foot. When I saw Simpsons side for the first time the term all hell and no notion came to mind, Simmo screaming from the dugout and football that the term biff bang seemed to put a gloss on. However Simpson has shown that he does have a strategy and his plan did work and it is Lincoln City remaining in the division and, shockingly for me, both in the fact it was them and in some of the behaviour at ther final match, Stockport County who plunge, as the Manchester Evening News put it, into the abyss. Such a fall from grace is astounding for such a celebrated club, certainly amongst us lesser lights of the football pyramid.
It seems such a long time that City have finised a season with such panache. I had been musing over whether to go to Hyde, I'd actually said I would if we were safe but then in any case my plans were changed due to having to be at home to accept a delivery, plenty did go though and they were pleased they did as City swept aside their opponents and finished the season in style doing wonders, I would imagine, for potential season ticket sales and also, importantly, for Imps fans perception of the way they view their club, The last attendances lately, coupled with yesterdays magnificent gathering of away support to roar the boys on to safety, giving rise to dangerous thoughts that, at long last Lincoln City's fortunes might be about to improve.
So that's that for this season but continue to log on for my take on all the goings on down at Sincil Bank, news views and, let's hope not too many boos, we've had enough of them thank you very much.
Friday, 19 April 2013
No shortage of material in the press in the build up to this season’s finale which would be fun if it wasn’t so serious. Gary Simpson was on This is Lincolnshire with a headline “It’s in Hyde’s interests to help Stockport by beating Lincoln City”. I’m not so sure of the reasoning for that, when all said and done Hyde are a professional football club although of course we are talking about a team and a manager wanting to win a game which is a world away from deliberately losing to help a neighbour.
Simpson stated the team will maintain a solid state of mind, although what affect his words will have on his charges is another matter:-
"There is obviously more on the game for us than there is for them, I just don’t want us to be frightened of it. We have to remain how we have been – positive."
Simpson expanded on his theme but says he still hasn’t made up his mind on how to approach the match:-
"We could look at it and say we are going to block it up against Hyde,"
"But you could say the best form of defence is to attack these ("these" presumably Hyde) because they can concede as well.
"In my head I want to go and be positive, that’s how we have been all they way through.
"I thought it would go down to the final game and I have maintained that since I walked through the door.
"I am just focusing on what we want to try to do. If we are positive and get the right result it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. It’s in our hands."
Meanwhile Stockport’s reporter on the local rag sounded disconcertingly confident when interviewed on BBC Radio Lincolnshire this morning although that was maybe for outside consumption, the Manchester Evening News headline, “Glory days are gone as Stockport County stare into the abyss” perhaps reflecting the local view of the potential catastrophe lurking round the corner for a club relegated along with City from the football league.
The Evening News deems Lincoln City barely worth a mention in their piece, concentrating on Hatters recent past as a stark reminder of how far and how fast County have sunk of late and their man did confirm to BBC’s Rod Whiting this morning that the Imps are the best paced of their rivals to survive. That doesn’t make things any easier as we impatiently wait for judgement day.
Thursday, 18 April 2013
It’s the lull before the storm at the moment and if City weren’t involved I dare say it would really be quite exciting. Various clubs are feeling the strain although I can’t say particularly we are although, this being Lincoln City the capacity for calamity is never too far away.
Gary Simpson said in today’s Lincolnshire Echo the team won’t be instructed to go hell for leather for a win:-
“We will not be going gung-ho that is for sure,” he said.
“If you go out all guns blazing you leave yourself in a vulnerable position and we don’t want that or need it.
“Let’s face it. Would you rather be in Stockport’s position or ours?
“There’s no question you would want to go in to the final day with the cushion that we have.
He went on:-
“We need to have a balanced approach and make sure that we have done our job, because if we do, it does not matter what has gone on elsewhere.
“Our fate is in our own hands which is exactly how you want it to be.”
There will be a big following for the Imps at Hyde and the coaches have sold out. Simpson acknowledged the role away fans play but also paid tribute to the home support doing their bit:-
“If they can turn Hyde’s ground into Sincil Bank that would be fabulous,” he said.
“Their support has been terrific just as it was the first time I was here.
“They are the reason I came back. They are pivotal to what we are trying to achieve at this football club now and in the future.
“It would be magnificent to see them turning up in their droves and roaring the lads on. Everybody at the football club appreciates the backing they have given us.”
Meanwhile Chairman Bob Dorrian confirmed on BBC Radio Lincolnshire last night that the club would remain full time come what may. He tempted providence saying it would take a disaster of monumental proportion to force the board into confirming that notion and I think, on this occasion at least fans and board are united in that although of course disaster and Lincoln City are two constant bedfellows.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Gary Simpson predicted it. You and I feared it and yes, this being Lincoln City it’s happened, it’s all going down to the last game of the season, away to Hyde before the identity of the final relegation victim is known.
It shouldn’t be City of course, a series of unlikely events has to happen to send the Imps down and Stockport are still very much on the precipice and didn’t you just know that it would be they, as we all started to relax a bit as Gateshead held their lead deep into injury time before, you guessed it, Hatters equalised.
It’s all a bit too familiar for my liking. A couple of seasons ago, City needed so little to haul themselves from danger, they didn’t get it. Even before that, when the Imps were turfed out of the league automatically for the first time they did not occupy bottom spot until the end of the last game of the season and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as not only the Gods conspired against us, even stray dogs got in on the act if you can remember that far back.
Well, let’s hope the Gods are with us this time and all dogs under control or that little red devil really is going to have to go.
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Do they say that in Gateshead? It’s only just over the river from Newcastle. Yes, those clubs with a game in hand play it tonight and all yellowbelly eyes will be on Stockport who are at Gateshead. If Stockport win, they live to fight another day, albeit against a Kidderminster side who will probably need to win to secure automatic promotion back to the league. That’s another away game. If they lose tonight, City are safe from relegation.
There are two things that are shocking about this scenario for me. That it is Lincoln City who are still vulnerable and that it is Stockport County who are even more vulnerable, in fact on the edge frankly. Stockport! Who would have thought that? Whilst I can see them beating Gateshead I can’t see any salvation for them given the stakes are so high for Kiddy. Having said all this at least City’s fate is still in their hands. Whether Saturday’s game fills you with confidence in their ability to get a result against Hyde, assuming you went, is another matter but I know who I’d rather be.
The BBC’s man in the North East told BBC Lincolnshire the Tynesiders are in patchy form. They beat Luton 5-1 then promptly lost 2.0 to Nuneaton but they need to win too. Victory will ensure their safety, along with the Imps.
Monday, 15 April 2013
I was dismissive of the annual player of the season awards ahead of Saturday’s nerve fest, suggesting that there has been no one worthy of the award. I really did think Jamie Taylor would win and his goals have been a highlight in a season when there were few, highlights that is. Judging by his four sides of the stadium salute to the fans when he was replaced late in the game we are perhaps unlikely to see him next season, mores the pity.
There have been good performances, it would be churlish to completely deny that. Paul Farman, despite the clangers, has often kept the Imps in the game and I have enjoyed watching Andrew Boyce in his debut season. He got better with the experienced Nat Brown beside him and I’m looking forward to seeing him develop in what we all hope will be a better next season. Nat too has surprised me. Never a particular favourite of mine when he was our player he has provided a steadying influence at the back and has been very valuable to the team.
Talking of defenders I do like Tom Miller and watching him has provided particular entertainment, after all he’s had plenty to do this term. Although we’re unlikely to be seeing him again I thought Peter Gilbert was a real find. His exclusion mystified me, I thought we looked much better when he was in the side but he’s not six foot of course and that’s what we will be watching in the future I suspect.
So we come to our player of the season, Alan Power. He has his detractors, I can’t for the life of me think why. He’s industrious, skilful, hard working and a brilliant captain. When he stepped up to take that penalty that took guts. Sure a manager would say if he didn’t want to be in those positions he shouldn’t be a professional footballer. Fair enough but it still took guts and his delight at converting the penalty and the delight of everyone with Lincoln City connections was wonderful to witness. Should City survive to take their place in the Premier League next season that will be the defining moment and one of very few occasions of pure joy the team has managed. We’ll wait a few days before getting too carried away though.
Sunday, 14 April 2013
Manager Gary Simpson claimed in the after match interviews that Lincoln City were “excellent from start to finish” now who used to say those words? I’m not so sure about that although the team certainly started the game as if they meant business as did the large and noisy Sincil Bank crowd backing them. It was all going so well before the Imps express almost got derailed by a double whammy of not only conceding but conceding to an own goal, the effective Dan Gray being the unfortunate defender in the wrong place at the wrong time.
City took the remainder of the first half and much of the second to recover from this set back and really have to learn to take such adversity on the chin and just get over it, these things are going to happen. It does underline though that this is a young and relatively inexperienced City team. Whether Simpson will see enough in this side to build around for next season, whatever league the Imps are in and always assuming he is indeed the manager next term and plenty of City fans were saying before this game that he should not be.
Simpson also claimed that more football was played but it seemed to me that they could have kept the ball much more on the deck in the first half as, particularly Farman, found his clearances ballooning up in the air , heading almost vertically as the ball met the strong breeze before dropping like a stone, with snow on it. You can’t do anything to advance the attack with balls like that.
At the risk of sounding like a complete old geezer which of course I am, I was reminded of the Colin Murphy days as City turned round for the second half this time with that wind at their backs and they were a totally different proposition for Tamworth to cope with. City gave the Lambs such a battering it was really no surprise, and certainly a huge relief when the ever reliable Taylor got City level with an effort that seemed to take ages to find its way into the net.
Talking of surprises, the referee, who had spent most of the first half penalising City for the slightest of misdemeanours, so much so that I thought someone was bound to get sent off for two innocuous yellows, awarded City a penalty for, well a fairly innocuous challenge. Up stepped player of the season Alan Power. In a gutsy second half from the team, Power encapsulated that ethos to dispatch possibly the most important kick he will ever take in terms of what it meant to the club and its supporters, to send the home crowd into raptures and cast Tamworth into the pit of despondency.
It occurred to me as I waited for Match of the Day to start, later that evening, having absorbed our delicious pork loin chops, courtesy of Redhill Farm of Gainsborough, since you asked. You might consider a gin and tonic, a glass of white and a glass of red sufficient but, in view of the relief and pleasure of watching this performance I allowed myself a further Metaxa brandy so I was feeling pretty mellow and as Dusty Springfield came on my playlist, “I close my eyes and count to ten” (it could also have been Lou Reed, Perfect Day, I’ve got that too although really that would have been corny beyond belief) It occurred, that City had finally delivered in a season of not doing so and in so doing reminded us of what it is that makes it worth following this damned football club. Other pork loin chops and brandy available at your local emporium by the way.
I must be careful not to give the impression that City are home and hosed. They are not but in snatching that win, and the three points that go with it from the grasp of Tamworth and the other results largely going our way, unlike last week, things are looking much more rosy and City might be safe as soon as Tuesday if Stockport fail to win their game in hand.
Friday, 12 April 2013
Well here we are again on a now well trodden path. As we await the final home game of the season the player of the season awards are at best an irrelevance, very possibly a hindrance. Personally I’d scrap them for this season. There hasn’t been a player of the season.
Are we looking forward to a pleasant afternoon in our shorts either biting our nails over getting into the playoffs or better? No we are not. Spring hasn’t even arrived, unless you count the other afternoon. Are we looking forward to a meaningless fixture, relaxed as to the outcome? No we are not. Is there anything about the prospects of the next two, final (possibly in all senses of the word) games that makes us glad we are a Lincoln City supporter? No there is not.
The board have issued a rallying call, most important game, probably of them all. If it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable. This announcement has been greeted by derision and suspicion frankly. The comment on the Lincolnshire Echo website make very interesting reading as does the Lincoln Vital website.
I shall be there tomorrow, as will more than the usual I suspect. Whether this will do good or harm I don’t know. The cynic in me sees the club getting in as much money as possible, not that it’s not needed. Financial as well as football Armageddon can’t be too far round the corner. I’ll make these predictions, it won’t be sorted out tomorrow, that’s not a prediction, it’s a fact looking at the table and City, just for once will squeak home and survive in the league, just. Whether it would be a good or bad thing I don’t know that either.
I’m not privy to these things but I believe season ticket sales were a disappointment this season. I think that will be nothing to the next season, if we get that far. The level of disillusionment and detachment I detect from my fellow fans is palpable and I really don’t know what kind of support can be expected next season, whatever league we are in. I expected a lengthy stay in the fifth tier. At this rate we will be glad of it; if that’s the way it pans out.
Wednesday, 10 April 2013
Did you see what I did there? When Lincoln City embarked on a run of four games unbeaten, three of them wins, even though the draw against Cambridge United was pretty dire, if we’re being honest, most of us thought that was the Imps more or less safe for another season. Good job too looking at the next two away games, against Kidderminster and Luton which were tricky to say the least.
Manager, Gary Simpson challenged the team to finish off in style and go the remainder of the season unbeaten. I genuinely believed the Imps could get something from those two games but, as we all now know, all that was gained was rueful experience, City are just not good enough, at least consistently good enough and now were in very familiar territory aren’t we?
The mood has turned, to use an expression very much in vogue at the moment, toxic. There have been various calls for a large turnout for the final home game on Saturday, even a fiver entry to get as many Imps as possible inside Sincil Bank. Undoubtedly there will be a big gate, urging the team on. That’s us, loyal to the last. I personally believe however that City would be better off with just the 1400 diehards who can be expected to turn out on a cold wet Tuesday night in February because I can picture the scene now as City huff and puff to get the goal that will ease their, and the crowds nerves. You can too, as, like me you’ve had more than enough experience of games like this, unfortunately.
I’d rather be on my allotment frankly, those potatoes won’t plant themselves, but I won’t be doing that, I’ll be at Sincil Bank and so will you. Mugs that we are.
Friday, 5 April 2013
It’ll be a tough ask but Gary Simpson has set his charges with the task of remaining unbeaten for the final games of the season. Simpson no doubt has his sales hat on with a view to season tickets which were not ever so good last close season but he’s made a good start with an impressive number of Imps making the short (for us in Lincs) journey to Alfreton and a much better than average gate for the Easter Monday game.
Whether those fans were too impressed with the fare on offer on Monday is debateable but certainly there was no adverse reaction to the nil, nil, even a bit of applause. Most fans seemed to accept that there had been two good performances away and, in Cambridge the Imps were facing considerably better opponents than they had in the three previous games. Ten points from four games was decent to say the least, even given the quality of the opposition. Whether David Holdsworth’s Imps would have been granted similar understanding is another matter but there is a feeling in the stands that the manager is one of our own now but of course that can change quickly if the results don’t follow.
Simpson goes in for a bit of the old mind games in today’s Echo, you can’t but help seeing the similarities with Keith Alexander:-
“Everybody will see Kidderminster are top of the league and the expectation will be on them to get the result,” he said.
“The pressure of the situation will be more on them than it will be on us.
“However, I’ve challenged the team to stay unbeaten and we’ve seen in recent weeks, with some of the performances that we’ve put in, that we are more than a match for anybody in the division.”
I’m just waiting for a “they’ve ruined my weekend, I’m going to ruin theirs” after a defeat, to complete the metamorphosis from Keith to Simmo and he was keen to gee up the supporters.
“Last time I was at the club the fans were fantastic, and to be fair to them, they have been unbelievable this time round ,” said Simpson.
“They wanted something to get behind and I hope we are giving them that - it certainly looked like it with a good gate coming on Monday.
“Their support is vital, because come the summer it makes the difference to the club on what type of player they can budget for.
“I know times are hard, but it’s been great to see more people coming and all the fans have been fantastic.”
I think we have to endure a few seasons at least before we can head back to where we were but in the meantime we do seem to have a manager who has first hand knowledge, as we all do, of what those days of the playoffs were like and he is showing, for the moment at least an understanding of what is needed to return to them. This should come with a banana skin warning. We are talking about Lincoln City after all.
Thursday, 4 April 2013
I must admit to feeling rather amused to be still reading about Cambridge United’s manager, Richard Money’s comments about Lincoln City’s style of play against them on Easter Monday.
I commented on Tuesday and quoted a fair bit of what he had to say and today it appears in the Pitchero Non League website. A twitter follower complained of his annoyance at what the U’s manager had to say but it doesn’t bother me in the way it used to when Keith was the manager and, for those of us fans rather longer in the tooth they used to disparage us when John Beck was the manager. Although it didn’t happen on his watch, such was John Reams’ eagerness to regularly dispatch managers, for "three very serious breaches of contract" we were told. Beck’s methods, and I do mean methods, he was very keen on that, did get City promoted to league one although we enjoyed little success. We did however enjoy, and it seems strange to look back, games against Manchester City, Stoke, Fulham and Reading, if my memory serves me correctly, that’s right, league games.
Just another titbit of Money’s considered opinion of the City approach:-
“On Monday you’ve got to come here, put your tin hats on and cope with that.
“Is it want I want to be involved in? No, not really, but you’ve got to be pragmatic and get on and do it.
Cambridge United are 12th in the league, just thought I’d throw that in.
Tuesday, 2 April 2013
Ok, it’s an old cliché but it wasn’t pretty at Sincil Bank but many’s a time City would have attempted to play the likes of Cambridge United at their own game and come unstuck. Well, as their manager explained to the Cambridge Evening News, United did The Imps the honour, I suppose you could say, of playing City at their own game. As it happened, neither side came unstuck and whilst you might agonise over what might have been it’s another point towards a survival that is now looking achievable. An impeccable source heard straight from Grant Browns mouth that he believes City will need two more points to be secure. To be honest, they never really looked as if they would get them yesterday.
Here’s what the U’s manager, Richard Money had to say about City’s approach:-
“It’s amazing this football world, the way people perceive this game should be played, but unfortunately you have to come and stand up to it because if you don’t you get rolled over.
“If you want to know how I got my team selection, I picked the biggest players we had and tried to put them in some sort of shape, that’s the top and bottom of it, because if you’re not big enough to deal with set-plays and things that come in your box, you’re going to get beaten.
“Thank goodness we’ve got a goalkeeper that can come and help what’s quite a small back four cope.
“I thought first half we played well and with an incisive pass on a difficult surface at the right time, we might have got ourselves a goal .
“Second half the pressure builds and they’ve got six on the pitch who are over 6ft 2in and they bring on two subs who are also 6ft 2in, so you’ve got to cope with the pressure, the long ball and have to get the right people in the right holes to match it.
Sound familiar? I don’t think, when Gary Simpson was appointed, any Imps fans expected anything else and, whilst intricate football can be a beautiful thing we have got to get ourselves a lot further up the pyramid before we can even think of reintroducing it.
Having said all of the above, any pleasure the home fans took from the goalless draw was in the fact that it was another point in the scramble for survival; the football was humdrum to say the least. The Echo’s Leigh Curtis tweeted during the match of his dismay that City had played so well in the last two away fixtures and it was definitely bread but no jam on Monday. Oh well, there should be some reward for such devotion that our away following display.
Those elusive two points will, in the fans minds, be extremely hard to come by in the next fixture, away to Kidderminster for whom the term high flying might be judged to be an understatement but there again, the managers mentor made something of a habit of gatecrashing a party and making off with all the sausage rolls didn’t he?