Andrew Abbott's Blog

Friday, 30 September 2016

The season starts here as far as I’m concerned.

As previously mentioned in this blog, football, or at least football involving Lincoln City goes on hold till the end of September due to holidays. A game or two then it’s off to warmer climes for a couple of weeks before the season proper starts.

As we all know the season got off to a good start, great start in fact, then the realisation that we’re City fans and nothing goes well for long. Still, as I write it’s still September, just, so there’s plenty of time yet.

Like a lot of you I suspect, back in August, I allowed my mind to wander back to the last time the Imps were champions and if that didn’t require a long enough memory the time before that, with Graham Taylors all conquering side. It didn’t last long of course but if you’d been asked this time last season if you’d take City being on 22 points which is two points up on last year, after another good start I seem to remember, you like me would be happy.

The trick is of course to maintain the momentum and City haven’t been doing much of that whilst I’ve been away so to avoid a repeat of last season when the Echo tells me things started to go off the boil in November, City need to kick on.

By a supreme irony tomorrows opponents are Braintree, the management team’s former stamping ground. Part of me feels a bit sorry for them. They had a marvellous but ultimately unsuccessful season (tell me about it), lost their manager and his assistant, to us. Lost a good proportion of their team (chiefly to us) and have just had to sack their manager.

So part of me feels a bit sorry but it’s only a small part, the rest of me thinks there’s no point in City finally behaving like a big club, for once, poaching someone else’s manager, if we’re not going to take full advantage so there the sympathy ends.

After all the only thing that’s prevented a similar scenario happening to us more is the fact that City have consistently employed managers that no one else would be remotely interested in. Not after we’d finished with them.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Thin times for the Imps.

Regular readers may know there’s not much from me on the subject of Lincoln City in September. The reason for this is we always take our holidays once the kids go back to school. It coincided with a fallow period for the Imps and I’m hoping they will get back to winning ways this weekend.

Your correspondent hasn’t been idle on the footie topic though. Oh no. This year we indulged ourselves at one of the great football cathedrals of the world, Camp Nou Barcelona. We picked the right game as well, the Champions League encounter between Barça and Celtic.

I choose my words carefully here, my very best friends are Scots, one is a Celtic regular. The fact of the matter is they really didn’t turn up. Having said that not many teams would have lived with Barcelona that night.

Celtics bad luck and our good luck was the fact that Messi, Suárez, Neymar and Piqué all played. Iniesta came on in the second half. It was a star studded Barcelona team.

The first thing to say, apart from the fact that the stadium is enormous, is that it seems quite old. There was a spate of purpose built grounds going up across Europe and South America in the sixties and seventies,

What a din, it's not just Man City!

this was one although it was started in the fifties. So it looks quite elderly in comparison with say the Millennium Stadium which most of us Imps are acquainted with.

Much is made of the middle class nature of the fan base at Barcelona, it’s quite right and of course being an international brand there are fans from all over the world there. One pleasing aspect was the number of women attending the game, joining in and getting excited about football. Who could fail to get excited about the spectacle we saw?

The Champions League anthem was loudly derided, just like being at Manchester City and there was much Catalan sentiment about, so far as we could understand. I want to say that I would not swap the homely surroundings of Sincil Bank and the “in the blood” sentiment of supporting your home town club but what a treat seeing these wonderful players was.

Messi was truly amazing and Piqué a superb display. Did you know his surname is Bernabéu? Bet he doesn’t shout about that. Iniesta had a towering presence about him and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ball kicked so hard as his volleyed goal. Suárez surprised me, he didn’t have the best of games but his work rate was laudable and he gave a real team performance, in fact all the players displayed a good team ethic and the effort put in was exceptional. No play acting either, that really surprised me.

I can’t wait to get back to Lincoln City but the memory of that night will live with me for ever.

Friday, 9 September 2016

No more mid table mediocrity as the Cowley effect grips supporters.

Some considerable time ago, in the play-off years actually I remarked to a friend at work, a Boston United fan, that we City fans never had the experience of a meaningless match. Even at the beginning of the season every result mattered if only because the club, all of us, wanted to build on the previous season’s heartache and actually gain promotion.

As we all know that promotion never came and City not only failed to maintain the play off push but gradually sank further and soon enough were relegated. It wasn’t all that gradual come to think of it. Post Keith it was a tale of decline and to be honest interest started to wane. It’s not all that entertaining watching a bunch of players who are either inept, badly managed or who couldn’t care less. Start your own list to occupy yourselves now the evenings are getting longer.

Finally, without wanting to tempt providence City appear to have struck gold in their quest to find the man, or management team more correctly, who will arrest the spiral of decline and I can’t think there will be a single Imp who has not been galvanised by the Cowley brothers efforts so far. With the latest home gate at a little under the 4000 mark there is still a way to until City are playing in front of the biggest crowds in the league, certainly Tranmere and Wrexham are enjoying very impressive support and it does go a long way financially as well as giving the players a lift as they sense the big match atmosphere. Some will find it daunting, most became professional footballers to put themselves to the test in a vibrant arena. Some will go on to play in front of crowds much greater than the city can provide.

So here we are in quite a short period of time since the Cowleys took over and, once again every game is an important one and none more so than the forthcoming away trip to Tranmere. If this match doesn’t produce the top gate in the league and indeed better than many in the Football League I’d be surprised.

Will City prevail I hear you ask? The Imps are the form side and, as we saw on TV, City have picked up an enviable state of mind, having played ok but not necessarily been the better side, have nevertheless gone on to claim the points with virtually the last kick of the match. We’ve all watched others do it to us. Now were doing it to them. Happy Days.

Ps. Yes it was a header. Last kick of the match sounded more dramatic.

Monday, 5 September 2016

A word of warning for Imps fans, not that you need me to tell you.

So, the unusual pleasure of watching the Imps on the box and a win too, not that it looked like it was going to turn out like that as City laboured against a sprightly Torquay. The Imps took an early lead through a penalty, how many have we had? The practice has done Matt Rhead some good as he slotted it away like a good ‘un although it was hardly in the corner accuracy. Torquay though far from gave up the ghost.

The win underlined the management teams philosophy of fitness that lasts the whole game. Torquay gave as good as they got for most of the game but City’s specific game fitness told in the last phase of the match and they really looked the part and secured the win well into injury time. I was glad to have the benefit of action replay as it underlined what a good and accurate finish it was from Rhead and demonstrated he’s more than a battering ram centre forward. Much more.

It was so good to hear City not described as the poor relations on TV. Mention was made of City’s superior budget. In terms of preparation, managers demeanour at interview, the way City played, the players we have, the way we looked generally we looked a top level side. Therein lies the caveat. Enjoy it while it lasts. The Cowley brothers are not going to stop at Lincoln City. The best we can hope for is that City get promoted and then persuade the management team more can be done to enhance their reputation by staying a little longer, hopefully laying the foundations for an improved situation, post Cowley. It won’t be long before the Notts County’s and Peterborough United’s of this world sit up and take notice.

In the meantime what a pleasure it is to be an Imp, the run goes on, the crowds go up. A good result against Tranmere and I can see the next home gate nudging the 4000 mark. I hope so as it will underline to the management team that there is more to come from the supporters. The Cowleys are hot on doing their homework. Hopefully they will be aware that in the play-off years City often managed to just about fill the stadium. If we can engender that kind of support we will have demonstrated the interest is there and the board can hopefully be persuaded that with the right management now in place the investment can be provided to move the club well away from the lowly position we have been occupying for far too long.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Imps treasure chest raided-but it’s not all bad.

After a pretty good week football wise the talking point as we near an unaccustomed treat, well sometimes it’s a treat, of City being on the TV is the news that recent signing Jonny Margetts has signed on deadline day, for Scunthorpe United. The official website says it’s an undisclosed fee. If you look elsewhere on the net its £110000 which most fans seem to agree is very good business for a player that has only been on the books for a few months.

There seems to be very little resentment that it’s the Iron and very little clamour for City to have done more to hold on to the player. Perhaps this is just realism, perhaps it’s a recognition that Margetts is a very good player and that City should not stand in the way of someone who has the opportunity to considerably enhance his standing in the game.

Time was of course that Scunthorpe United were very much the juniors of Lincolnshire football behind Grimsby Town and ourselves and here they are paying good money for our players and we’re congratulating ourselves on doing business with such a prestigious club. That’s not sour grapes you understand.

Another way of looking at it is that there is no shortage of goalscorers at the moment particularly once Muldoon gets match fit again so the supporters, I gauge are fairly relaxed about the situation. The club could of course surprise us and blow the lot on a new striker but maybe that would put the rest of the league on notice and of course the moment a potential selling club hear of the possibility of a bit of cash coming their way the price goes up.

Either way, personally my spirits are still up despite the sale and I’m hoping Saturday’s exposure on BT Sport 2 won’t be the hiding behind the sofa experience it’s often turned out to be in the past.