Andrew Abbott's Blog

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

City pay no Heed to past results.

I think it’s fair to say that maximum points from a bank holiday weekend and indeed points gained against Gateshead have been something of a rarity. City wasted no time getting their noses ahead but for much of the first half Gateshead looked as if they could get back into the game and it was a very competitive match but City pressed on and finished the game well on top.

You can read match reports elsewhere but I just want to eulogise on what I’m seeing on the pitch and what I’m seeing at the moment is very encouraging indeed. I don’t think I’m being over the top but the goals the Imps scored yesterday could have been on match of the day, they were that well-constructed.

I sit near the directors box and it’s quite an education to watch Chairman Bob Dorrian. He’s normally quite impassive but boy is he enjoying his football at the moment, as we all are. The thought does occur that this season has not come about organically, it’s mainly the result of Clive Nates coming in and investing, in my view. I haven’t seen Chris Moyses in the directors box but I do hope he’s watching because I think much of the credit for this renaissance started with him but in this league money talks and Nates' contribution has provided the catalyst.

I don’t want to belittle the level of the financial commitment but in terms of the amount put in it’s not all that much compared to some of the figures you hear bandied about but it seems to have made all the difference and the fans have responded with another magnificent gate yesterday. As the Echo were saying the other day these extra bums on seats can make all the difference and it’s much easier for the board to countenance further spending if the gates are considerably more than budgeted for.

As fans of course we don’t really concern ourselves with budgetary matters, we assume everything is hunky dory, only later finding out probably it wasn’t. We shouldn’t lose sight of that when we are criticising the powers that be.

In the meantime and being very careful not to tempt providence you do have to say it’s all looking pretty rosy at the moment and you’d be mad not to enjoy these wonderful performances from as good a squad of players as I can remember seeing at Sincil Bank for a long time.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Early optimism replaced by a sense of déjà vu.

As honeymoons go City’s was over before they even got to the hotel. That feeling that the club really had hit upon a winning formula is now replaced by a realisation that we are in for a long hard slog if we are to achieve anything this season.

Injury and suspension have conspired against the club and the team that took the field against Dagenham and Redbridge last night had a bit of a cobbled together look even at this early stage of the season. The Imps did feature a reserve goalkeeper but it was 43 year old Jimmy Walker, the goalkeeping coach on the bench.

You can’t help but surmise that all the meticulous planning with a view to minimising the risk of injury to players has not produced the hoped for dividend although illness was responsible for Luke Waterfalls absence from the team.

It’s very early days of course but the club do have a chaplain to call on in times of trouble or perhaps the Bishop of Lincoln could give us a mention in his prayers. That pesky little Imp needs to be put firmly back on his column in the Cathedral. He’s done enough mischief lately thank you very much.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Unbeaten record turns out to be very short lived.

I certainly picked the best game to see and the one to miss, being away for the weekend. I hinted after the North Ferriby game that there’s always the chance that the next performance might be considerably removed from the first. How right I was. Talk about a bad day at the office, Rhead goes off injured, an own goal from Waterfall and, worst of all Wood gets red carded.

I didn’t vote for Bradley Wood in the player of the season although I thought he was our best player. His disciplinary record isn’t brilliant and that was the reason and here we are not three weeks into the season and he’s suspended already. I trust the manager will be having a word as a club like ours cannot afford to have key players like Wood out.

The gate was not an improvement on midweek, I did wonder about that too. All this just goes to underline what the manager has been saying, despite our initial enthusiasm. City are still not the finished article, not by a long chalk. I had hoped, having seen the Ferriby game that it would be some time before City tasted, or we home fans had to witness defeat. As it happens it’s not taken long at all.

Oh well, we’ve had long enough to get used to disappointment. Onwards and upwards.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Home banker? Or after the Lord Mayors show?

It’s back to Sincil Bank for the faithful, still pinching ourselves after Tuesday’s extravaganza. Can City topple Sutton or will a familiar scenario unfold? Not long to wait to find out.

Now that the dust has settled, and having seen the team, not that I expect it to stay the same all the time, I will say that I do really like the look of this seasons players. After Tuesday it would be a curmudgeonly fan who would say otherwise. I don’t think Danny Cowley is going to be a manager for keeping the same side out all the time. He mixed it up a bit for Tuesday and it wouldn’t surprise me if he kept us and the players and the opposition more importantly, guessing.

I’ll just highlight two players, chiefly for the benefit of those not there last time out. I’ll assume if you can come tomorrow you will do. Let’s hope Tuesday wasn’t a flash in the pan against a particularly poor side. They did get promoted after all so maybe we made them look bad.

The first player that impressed me and the sponsors too as he was awarded man of the match is Alex Woodyard. How on earth did we sign this player and what was he doing at Braintree? I see he's been about a bit, maybe he's a late developer. Any more performances like Tuesday and we’re going to be filling the stands with scouts from league clubs. They say that the mark of a good player is that he seems to have all the time in the world. He’s a good player then.

The second player, I’m very pleased to say, was renaissance man Matt Rhead. I’ll be honest, when he went on the transfer list I wasn’t particularly bothered. He’d had a great first half of the season then tailed off something rotten. Now of course we know the reason why and I’m so so glad we have his services for the foreseeable. To say he was outstanding on Tuesday is doing his performance an injustice.

I’m not one for wishing my life away but how I wish it was the end of the season or do I? Maybe this is the season that puts a spring in all our steps and from these very early days that does seem a possibility. Who would want to miss out on that?

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

City fans stunned at start to home campaign-so you could imagine what Ferriby thought.

It was a quiet contemplative crowd who disappeared in to the night after City’s 6.1 win against North Ferriby, many pausing to take a photo of the scoreboard on their mobile phones. Supporters must have been wondering if it was all a lovely dream as City swept aside the team many, myself included, believed would pose a real threat to a winning start at Sincil Bank.

If Imps were left gasping one can only imagine what was going through the minds of those with Ferriby connections. They have got used to upsetting the odds although it has to be said, reading what the Villagers were saying, they were expecting a tough season. Now they know they’re going to get one. I sit near the director’s box and the North Ferriby contingent were sat very near me. They were looking at each other in disbelief as City raced into the lead and in truth the game was won in the first few minutes. Of course we did get our customary reminder of vulnerability when North Ferriby got one back in their first, maybe their only real attack, just for old times’ sake.

If last night was anything to go by fans had better not hang about over the final pint and will need to be in their seats early. Danny Cowley said on the radio afterwards that the plan is to blitz the opposition for as long as they can at the start of the game. They certainly did that. On a cautionary note it has to be said that we will go a long way before we see another such poor showing from opponents. Whether that means Ferriby are in for a long hard season or City are really good we shall have to wait and see. I can’t believe that this was the team that disposed of a decent Boston side in last season’s playoffs and of course it wasn’t. They have lost their manager and key players so let’s not get too carried away.

On the other hand the Imps have scored nine goals in two games, shipping two in the process. Cowley will be focusing on that following the players richly deserved day off.

Everyone was delighted with the gate, not all that far short of 4000 for the first game of the season when a lot of people are on holiday, as well they might be. Clearly the supporters have bought into the vision the new management team have brought, hoping this will herald a real renaissance for the club and better times ahead for us all. The trick will be keeping that enthusiasm going once the honeymoon is over. Opponents will not be slow in finding ways to blunt City’s tactics but for the moment let’s just enjoy the unaccustomed joy of life at the top of the table.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Miles injury is a reminder it’s not all going to be plain sailing.

I suppose it’s never too early for a reality check. It wasn’t on the club website but the drive home last night brought the news, courtesy of BBC Radio Lincolnshire that Taylor Miles has a broken ankle. As you might expect, the manager has someone being watched. I think we can expect the club to now be much more proactive.

That doesn’t exactly help City’s quest to get the home season off to a winning start against neighbours, I hesitate to say near neighbours but it’s all we’ve got, this being Lincolnshire, North Ferriby United. I expect the visitors to “park the bus” as I believe those who know a lot more about football than I do would say.

North Ferriby seem to be positioning themselves as the wide eyed newcomers to the league but they were cocky enough a while back when the likes of Gainsborough Trinity’s manager was bemoaning the fact that they were poaching all the best players. That was a bit rich as it was the Blues doing just that previously. Who is the current Ferriby manager? That’s right, the former Gainsborough boss. What a small world football can be.

Wide eyed they may be but I expect North Ferriby to put up a spirited show against the Imps however I can’t imagine Danny Cowley allowing any more turn up and get the points attitudes that have dogged the team performances in the past though.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Great start to the Cowley era gives fans the feelgood factor.

I think its fair to say the nature of the capture of the Cowley brothers for the Imps, the squad rebuilding, the publicity and the quality of the recruits have got City fans wondering if this new regime, coupled with the positive influence of Clive Nates in the boardroom is starting to usher in a new golden period for the club. We could definitely do with it.

Certainly Danny Cowley seems to be here there and everywhere at the moment and it was really no surprise to hear him on the first Friday Football of the season, along with the Blues and Pilgrim managers. BBC Radio Lincolnshire must be delighted to have three such eloquent speakers at the helms of their clubs.

Danny Cowley speaks authoritatively and energetically in sharp contrast to some predecessors particularly compared to poor old Gary Simpson who seemed to implode on the airwaves as his tenure in the City hotseat ground to a frustrated halt.

Most of us will be waiting for Tuesday for a first glimpse of the new look Imps line-up although the Cowley brothers hopefully had confirmed to them City’s big club potential as over 400 Imps made the trip down south to cheer the team on.

The supporters had plenty to cheer too as the new players conspired to get the season off to a winning start against a club the Imps have previously struggled with. The pre Cowley team members did their bit as well with Matt Rhead surely putting a smile on the faces of the management, rewarding all that close season diplomacy and effort with a two goal performance. Whether Rhead is a true penalty taker, one converted, one not, is something I’m not convinced about but Cowley does not seem to me to be a manager who will do something for old times sake so he must be convinced Matt is the man for that job. We shall see next time City are awarded a spot kick.

So all in all a highly satisfactory start to the new season and the new dynasty. Lets hope it’s a long and profitable one and let’s hope the team and management are rewarded for that brilliant start with a bumper crowd for the visit of North Ferriby United.

Friday, 5 August 2016

And they’re off!

It’s always difficult to find the right headline for the first thoughts of the season but there’s no shortage of enthusiasm amongst those of us of a red and white hue.

I should perhaps have put a few more thoughts down over the summer, so much has been going on at Sincil Bank starting of course with the resignation of Chris Moyses and the appointment of the Cowley brothers. This was followed by as comprehensive a rebuilding as I can remember and we already started with a half way decent squad.

I’m not going to give a rundown of the new players or indeed comment on the old ones as I haven’t yet been to the Bank but I’ll be putting that right on Tuesday by which time we will know if the Imps are tearing out of the blocks or taking time to gel.

Certainly the signings have got the faithful excited and the latest capture, of Sean Raggett has been taken by the fans as a real statement of intent. Hopefully a good deal less comedy defending this winter. The other “signing” was Matt Rhead and this, again has been judged very good news by the supporters.

Rheads new contract also gave an opportunity to set the record straight about the player. We all noticed that Rheads form dropped off considerably after Christmas and we now know this was not machinations behind the scenes unsettling the striker but injury made worse by the distance the player was travelling. That situation has been improved as far as possible and we’re all hoping we see the old Matt Rhead making mincemeat of opposition defences once again.

If City’s defence can be made as rock solid as possible that in itself would put the Imps in a good position to trouble the play off places. Such is the impression the Cowley brothers have made and the general air of good solid football business being done and the quality of the signings, fans are starting to allow themselves the thought that City might even be able to aim higher. After all a season depends on the ability to react positively to the inevitable setbacks and the management team have been making all the right noises and, for the moment, seem to have plenty of answers.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Queen’s Palace Bucks the trend.

To London last weekend which is something of a departure for us these days. There was a time when I went to the capital as much as I could and saw my future there or if not possibly Nottingham. Anything to get away from parochial Lincoln. I wouldn’t thank you these days and of course Lincoln has certainly pulled itself up by the boot straps these last few years. Now I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

However it’s still nice to visit London for the day (Nottingham too for that matter) and it’s so convenient from Newark Northgate particularly if you live to the south of the city. If you book early enough first class travel is doable and makes a slightly decadent day of it. You get fed on the train too.

The occasion was a visit to look round Buckingham Palace followed by afternoon tea at the Grosvenor Hotel which was bought as a present. I like having a Monarchy though I’m not an ardent Royalist but, having been round Windsor Castle and Sandringham House a visit to the London home of the Queen appealed. As The Palace is where most visiting heads of state are entertained by the Queen I was full of enthusiasm.

We arrived at the station, a mere fifteen minutes from home, tickets bought well in advance to secure the best price. We were soon speeding south scoffing our breakfast. Kings Cross station is such an experience to arrive at since it was refurbished at great expense. We’re not regular visitors but knew the drill, it was straight to the machines to get one day travelcards. I showed my ignorance by remarking there were no manned booths at the Underground. I do remember the uproar when they were done away with come to think of it.

We had a bit of time to spare so it was Harrods first to marvel at the er prices. Somehow we ended up at Jimmy Choo. I can’t think why. My personal favourite is the food hall. I could spend all day in there but the Palace awaited.

We were delighted that the tour started at the actual point where the carriages and cars drop off their passengers and we had seen this so many times on TV it felt a real occasion to actually be at the spot where visitors are greeted.
The interiors are sumptuous to say the least and visiting heads of state are left in no doubt what a historic and important place this little island of ours is. The tour is made all the more relevant by the fact that this is a working environment as well as the home of the Queen. Most visits to stately homes are snapshots of the past. Not this one.

You float through the place almost in a dream to be honest, fabulous furniture and paintings as far as the eye can see. Of particular interest, to the ladies in particular, is a large exhibition of the Queens outfits over the years. There was a considerable crush there.

Onward to a glimpse of the salon where the Queen holds audiences and I could just imagine our nervous new Prime Minister meeting the Queen for the first time in there just a few days earlier. A stroll round the garden completes the tour. This will be the nearest I get to a Palace garden party that’s for sure.

On to the Grosvenor, just down Buckingham Palace Road, for our tea and a very grand occasion that was too before a stroll round curiously car free streets, closed for the Ride London event and then a pint and glass of wine in the pub at Kings Cross Station. Very nicely done out with railway memorabilia. £9.90. Get me back to Lincolnshire as soon as possible!