Andrew Abbott's Blog

Monday, 31 October 2016

Avenues of accessibility.

These days there’s so much coverage of Lincoln City, on the radio, daily in the Echo’s website. Humble bloggers such as myself and the internet generally including the clubs own website. There’s also the weekly paper Echo.

Back in the day, which I seem to be more and more drawn to these days, must be a sign of age, there was the Echo, nightly six days a week and the excellent Football Echo which used to arrive about six pm on a Saturday. This had all the results, tables and some detailed coverage of local sides and comprehensive coverage of the Imps.

All this meant City’s manager, whoever that may be and there have been many, was not exposed to the full glare of media publicity as they are today. Now that we are well and truly into the season I find it interesting to go back a few managers (not that far in years, this being City) and see what their public pronouncements say to us, the fans.

The not unintelligent but monosyllabic Chris Sutton was at the helm when I started my writing career, if you can call it that, with the PFA and I did find him an interesting character. His view seemed to be he knew what he wanted to do but did not want anyone asking him how he was going to do it and he was damned if he was going to give any further explanation as to how we were going to get there.
Sutton left in strange circumstances, still not fully explained but my view is that playing for and managing top sides bore very little relationship to life at the peasant end of the market. When he realised his meticulous planning, and I think he did plan meticulously, when that wasn’t working he didn’t want a sacking on his CV so jumped ship.

Steve Tilson, the less said the better really, he did talk the talk but was a long way from walking the walk. I didn’t hear many voices warning of his unsuitability though, certainly I thought it was a good appointment, show’s what I know. He was however very good on the radio, just not at managing Lincoln City. Disastrous in fact.

Who was next, David Holdsworth? He was another media savvy radio performer although I found his touchline antics bizarre. How he thought anyone might give of their best whilst being screamed at for ninety minutes I really wouldn’t know. In his case the decibel count had no effect on the team and off he went which brings us to Gary Simpson. I felt sorry for him every time I heard him on the radio particularly after the hopeful signs of his early tenure faded. He gave every indication he was out of his depth which I think was right.

Chris Moyses was a manager I had a lot of time for and I think he laid the foundations for the current renaissance but the catastrophic loss of form at the end of last season cannot be ignored. I found him an interesting performer. I got the feeling I would have liked to work for him.

So to Danny Cowley and the contrast with all of the above could not be more marked. Consummate radio performer, assured coach and manager. Spotter of talent, nurturer of players. Hard headed businessman when it comes to the transfer of players in or out. I find it quite reassuring the ease with which he persuades players to join the Imps. We’ve heard all the excuses from former managers, Lincoln is remote, the budget etc etc. Doesn’t seem to be an issue for Cowley although it does have to be stated his is a better budget than formerly but I don’t think it’s all down to that.

The only City managers I met personally were Graham Taylor and Keith Alexander and I got similar vibes from both of them. I can’t give higher praise than that.

We now pause for breath after a fairly hectic start to the autumn although we must laud the latest success, the win at Chester which City have never found a comfortable place to be. To come back from behind twice and still register a handsome win is remarkable. I felt quite exhausted just listening to it on the radio.

Now for the FA Cup. I said I was confident City would come away from Chester with something and my confidence remains for the weekend.

A cup run would truly confirm the mould has been broken.

Friday, 28 October 2016

It’s a family affair.

The Echo is a fair reflection of how we’re all feeling at the moment I think carrying an article on Lee Beevers horror injury and, connected with it, Alan Powers re-emergence into the team. He’s been a bit part player this season and, with his contract up before too long I’m thinking we’d better enjoy his performances while we can.

Power is the sort of player I look at and marvel how good he can be then oops something goes wrong and I realise what a bad player he can be too. There was one mis placed pass, in fact it was a perfect pass-to the opposition but apart from that it was a welcome demonstration of what Al can do. I’d have given him man of the match to be honest even though he did come on as sub.

Then there is Lee Beevers injury which I’d realised was serious until my in house injury expert advised me it can in fact be career threatening and that was expanded upon in the Echo. The players have been visiting and are organising help for the DIY Lee was carrying out at his house. It’s a good read, have a look for yourselves.

Life goes on though, especially in football and this weekend City are in Chester where I lived for a year many moons ago. I’ve always regarded Chester as a bit of a bogey team. Way back, and I really mean it, City were pipped at the post by Chester for promotion by the tiniest fraction of a goal and ever since that I’ve always regarded them as having some sort of hoodoo when it comes down to the Imps.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say I’m very confident City will come away from Chester with something at least and it wouldn’t be a surprise if it’s three points. After that second half against Boreham Wood it’s going to take a very good side indeed to take anything off the Imps at the moment.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A good win and a bad loss-and a bonus.

Another three points on the board last night making it four points from two very tough home games. Radio Lincolnshire said it was an easy win. I thought it was anything but as City struggled to get their game together in the first half but once they scored, that was the end of Boreham Wood.

You could see why Boreham Wood have had so much success on the road. They looked like they were used to gaining points and, despite what was said on the Radio, made it difficult for City to get a foothold but once they did, through Arnold, or was it Robinson, that was the end of Woods gameplan and they didn’t have another.

The evening was marred by a bad injury for Lee Beevers and a long delay was necessary to treat the stricken player and get him to the changing rooms. In the eight minutes of injury time largely taken up with that disaster, City scored with an effort from Arnold that may or may not have been deflected in by Robinson.

I wrote recently I expected some players to go to pastures new and I suppose one of the players I had in mind was Alan Power. How glad I am that prophecy came to nothing as Al put in the sort of performance we all used to hope for when he was playing regularly. Just one passing howler but other than that a virtuoso display. Welcome back.

City were much better in the second half and very much looked the part of title chasers. It was a wonderful half of football and sent the crowd home very happy. In fact we remarked during the game what a pleasant atmosphere there is around Sincil Bank these days. It’s all about winning of course but it’s more than that. There’s a feeling the club is being gradually rebuilt.

I would say though that the city needs to get behind the club a bit more. Just 3000 there last night. It’s good but you do wonder what this squad have to do to get more people in the ground. It’s the missing fans loss to be frank. Anyone still sitting at home thinking things haven’t changed need to get to Sincil Bank and find out for themselves. The extra funds accumulated by more fans in the ground might make all the difference come the latter half of the season.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Speculate to accumulate more speculation.

I suppose there’s no point in moaning about it. You either have a manager no one’s interested in or you have a red hot property and his name is touted around every time a vacancy for a new manager comes up. If you don’t know there’s now a vacancy up the A46 you must be the only Imp that doesn’t.

Just looking at that, and I don’t suppose you all agree with this sentiment, if a club of the stature of Grimsby Town has lost their manager to the likes of Shrewsbury, we’d better keep a very tight hold of ours as already the rumour mill is spinning at a fair old rate linking Danny Cowley with the vacancy.

I can’t help feeling there’s more to the Mariners situation than meets the eye. I recall reading somewhere that their manager, now departed, was told get promoted or else, that again may be speculation but it might explain why he was prepared to move, for me , more or less sideways although up a division, for the moment at least. It could be payback time. Anyway, if Danny Cowley starts dropping hints about a new car we’d perhaps all better be prepared to get our hands in our pockets and get a crowdfunding account started.

We’re not here to discuss that situation though although our manager will move on at some stage, we’d have our heads in the sand if we didn’t realise that but, on to more pressing matters, the second of a season defining double header, the visit of Boreham Wood.

Saturdays disappointing one point, the match wasn’t disappointing but the draw was, heralded a big two games and I wrote beforehand that we would know a bit more about City’s prospects after these two massive home matches. I never thought it was going to be easy and tonight won’t be either. City will have to do something no one else has this season if they are to take maximum points as Boreham Wood haven’t been beaten away all season.

I’d normally say a point is better than none but do wonder if it’s worth going all out for the win even at the risk of losing the game. What will the manager do?

All the more reason to be at the Bank tonight to see first hand.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

I beg to differ.

It’s not often I leave a match at Sincil Bank and pretty much disagree with everything I’m hearing and reading about the game. It happened on Saturday though.

I thought the game was a fantastic advert for National League football. The Echo described it as poor. As far as I’m concerned it was a pulsating midfield battle, full of tension and endeavour. A chess game between a wily old head and the young pretender.

Thommo said on the radio afterwards he thought the referee had a good game. Not for me. Sure he knew the rules but failed totally to find any empathy towards the game which is, I’d just like to remind him a form of entertainment for the paying public. By paying public I mean home and away supporters. He showed similar distain for both.

I reserve particular criticism for the fourth official. He seemed to have pre determined to find issue with everything the home bench did. He spent most of the time practically in the home technical area. Not impressed.

The sponsors don’t escape either. How they failed to spot the buccaneering performance of Lee Beevers I struggle to understand. Not impressed with Lee? What about Matt Rhead? I don’t think I’ve ever seen such mastery of the ball headed from height. He looked disappointed to be replaced. Don’t be. You did as much in the time you were on as anybody could expect. A masterclass in forward play and distribution.

I will say I believe my view of the match seems to accord with my fellow fans as twitter seemed to confirm. These are not the sort of games where a win is essential, although it was good to come away with a point. Don’t forget a point for City means just a point for Eastleigh who I’ve got to say looked a very useful outfit indeed.

My worry is that Tuesdays equally potentially epic encounter may end in stalemate too. That would be unfortunate and a poor return for a lot of effort. If anyone was to win yesterdays encounter it should have been City but then again I would say that wouldn’t I?

Friday, 21 October 2016

Imps battlebus fuelled and ready to go.

We had proof yesterday, if we needed it, that City are not regarding this season as a find your feet exercise and are fully engaged now with a promotion push.

Yet another quality signing, Elliott Whitehouse, another England C player was snatched from under the noses, we’re told, of Eastleigh who appropriately enough are tomorrow’s opponents. City then play Boreham Wood the following Tuesday so we will have a better idea of City’s credentials then.

The worry must be, I suppose that Danny Cowley will be poached away from us a la Braintree before he has brought any tangible results for all this effort both from him and the board who are sanctioning the enterprise. I don’t think anyone can accuse them of lacking the stomach for the fight or indeed not providing the necessary wonga for a successful season, not after all this investment.

In the meantime, as alluded to above we are now in a full on battle for the top of the table, really for the first time since relegation. I don’t think anyone believes what has gone on since then has been anything other than a survival exercise and certainly no real excitement for us, the fans, apart from pleasure at individual performances and wins. I wouldn’t want to say there has been nothing to cheer, there has but this is the meat and drink of what football supporting is about. It’s been thin gruel but let’s delight in the feast that is now being loaded onto our table.

Looking to the future there are now several players who don’t have much of a hope of football on a matchday. We need some strength in the squad of course but I’m thinking we perhaps will be saying goodbye to some familiar faces (and some not so familiar) before long.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Imps aiming for the third round-that’s the Theo-ry.

Sorry about that but, having done things the hard way, it is City we’re talking about after all, they are now in the FA Cup proper and with an eminently winnable tie against Altrincham to come (why do I say these things?) The Imps must be eyeing the third round.

I said after Saturday’s game I was confident the Imps could still progress in the competition and so it turned out although I have to say, whilst they could be accused of being a little unambitious at Sincil Bank, Guiseley appear to have put their early season travails behind them and can now concentrate on the league being a much stiffer competitive unit than they were. I’m so glad I’m saying that about them though and not us. As it happened Theo Robinson burnished his reputation and eased slight City fears of lack of attacking options with a brace to see the Imps through. Unconvincingly perhaps but through nevertheless.

The aim must be though to snare attractive league opposition in the third round of the cup and get some much needed dosh in the coffers for the fight ahead.

That though is really putting the cart before the horse. Altrincham is just the sort of banana skin City have made their FA Cup reputation on.

Monday, 17 October 2016

A Curates Egg: Discuss.

You know the saying, like a curates egg, good in parts. You could describe City’s performance in the FA Cup at the weekend thus.

My Brother in Law was a Curate in his early days in the church and as far as I’m aware his eggs were no different to yours and mine. When I put my thoughts in the blog on Friday I think some people thought I was perhaps unduly pessimistic. I’m actually still quite optimistic the Imps will progress to the first round proper but years, countless years, of FA Cup experience with the Imps brought me to the conclusion that even given the gulf in league positions between City and Guiseley the outcome was by no means certain. So it proved.

Can City prevail? Well I believe they are capable of mounting a similar performance away tomorrow and I’d be surprised if they could enjoy such superiority and not score. On the other hand Guiseley are going to have to take the game to City far more than they did on Saturday, their fans will demand it, and that may provide a way in for our heroes so maybe a totally different match will ensue.

Either way we await our fate tomorrow. There’s not much glory in making it to the first round proper and if we don’t, proof that the Sincil Bank hoodoo is so entrenched that even Danny Cowley can’t overcome it.

It’s such fun being an Imp.

Friday, 14 October 2016

A rare event for City.

It’s the FA Cup this weekend and for City a battle to get to the first round proper. It honestly should be a walk in the park for the Imps even given Guiseley’s recent upturn. Are you fully confident though? Me neither.

Underperformance is not the word to describe City in the cup. If they had a 1000% better record they still wouldn’t be very good. No matter. Tomorrow represents as good a chance to progress as any but the trick would be to proceed further and get a big team later in the competition. We’re not going to win the cup, we could win some money. That’s the be all and end all as far as I’m concerned.

Yet it’s not all about money, that would be the means by which we cement our promotion bid but for fans like us, in contrast to fans of teams that do well it really is something to look forward to. According to the Echo the manager shares our enthusiasm:-

"They've turned a corner," said the Imps boss of Guiseley. "They were in a false position because they've got some good players. There's no way they should be where they are in the league, so it will be a tough game.

"We're pleased it's at home and it's a game we're really looking forward to because we'd like to do well in the FA Cup. Lincoln don't have a great record in the cup, so I'm told, but we've always enjoyed the competition.

"It's the greatest cup competition in the world and it's one that can change people's lives. We can't wait."

Yes, I think that’s how we all feel both in terms of not underestimating the opposition and the game itself.

Bring it on and at a tenner a time you’d be mad not to be at Sincil Bank tomorrow.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Win at home-draw away.

That’s the recipe for success apparently but people seem to have been getting a bit worked up about City losing their lead at Bromley on Saturday. Poor old Tom Champion seems to be getting the blame for that with even the official website “crediting” his losing the ball leading to the subsequent equaliser.

Champion, must be ruing the day he came to Lincoln and, if it’s within the clubs power to send him back to Barnet early maybe that would be the best thing in the long run as everything he touches seems to turn to dust.

What that would do to Champions confidence goodness only knows although it’s not the Imps job to nurture other clubs’ players, he is here to do a job of work and get fit into the bargain. It’s been so far so bad for the unfortunate player.

Anyway back to my original point and, disappointing though it was to be pegged back, it’s hardly a disaster, City’s home form is reasonable and these things are going to happen and we certainly shouldn’t be getting overly despondent about a point away particularly as the reports I’ve read seem to indicate it was a fair result.

On to the cup then and City are in the unaccustomed position of being the favourites, or at least I assume they are I haven’t done any checking. Needless to say Guiseley have gone from whipping boys to fashioning something of a run lately but nevertheless City should have far too much firepower to come unstuck. There I’ve said it.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Keep smiling through.

I don’t know whether you’ve noticed this but every time a new photo of Danny Cowley appears in the Echo he seems to have a little bit more of a grin on his face. You can say that about most of us I suspect.

My son (who knows about these things) tells me City are now second favourites for the league in some quarters and I’m starting to think I ought to have had a cheeky tenner on the Imps right at the start of the season. Even then it seemed something was in the wind.

The irony is the Imps aren’t particularly firing on all cylinders at the moment yet six points in seven days is, well, you can’t do any better than that can you?

Talking of the Echo, Cowley underlined his belief that City are still far from the finished article:-

“We showed great character and dug in, even though some people weren't playing well and we weren't playing well as a collective,"

“It's a nice feeling when you know you can trust the players in terms of their work ethic and their determination."

As the saying goes it’s a marathon not a sprint and the idea is to finish at the top at the end of the season, not before Christmas but a good (let’s face it, unexpectedly good) league position will keep those turnstiles clicking unlocking City’s trump card, support. An extra thousand on the gate represents a very substantial increase in income, putting the Imps on a more level playing field with some of those fancy Dan newcomers we’re all delighted to see in our league.

Cowley isn’t about to let the team or ourselves get over complacent commenting on the forthcoming away trip to Bromley:-

“They're a very powerful team and are good from set-pieces," .

“They have a lot of pace about them. It will be a tough game."

We’ve been warned.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Story Unfolds.

We were saying at the match on Saturday that fourth or fifth in the table isn’t a bad place to be in the pre-Christmas period, watching the dog fights taking place overhead, sailing serenely under the radar unnoticed.

After last night’s win at Wrexham all of a sudden City are well and truly attracting the attention of the searchlights if I could just continue the Dambusters theme for a little longer as the Imps now sit in second place but, as those of us with very long memories know, you have to get used to dealing with the pot shots if you’re going to escape to higher things.

Former blogger Kate, producer of the excellent Imps ka, a website I very much enjoyed in its day pointed out on twitter yesterday that there seems to be a misconception that Wrexham are a giant of the league and almost unbeatable. I think this is true, whether it’s the Racecourse Ground, former home of international matches or the tremendous support they get I don’t know but that view now seems as dated as notions of the Wales National team playing at such a relatively modest stadium and being an also ran internationally. That’s in the past and, once more, City have emerged from their trip over the border with all three points.

I think also ex Imps Sean Newton and Hamza Bencherif give the impression that they see themselves (or saw themselves) as rather too good for the Imps, the nature of their departures from Sincil Bank apart, Ben Tomlinson is another, but I don’t think they would stand much of a chance getting a start for City now.

I’m going to qualify that last statement by saying that all of those ex Imps were great favourites of mine and I very much enjoyed their performances but it’s a measure of the progress City have made that prompts those sentiments, I’ve certainly no axe to grind with any of them.

That seems to give a slightly negative response to another excellent away performance, I didn’t start out to give that impression, I’m actually a really happy Imp.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Clash of the, er, well supported.

I must admit, when I checked the league table I thought Wrexham were rather higher up the table than they are. I caught the tail end of the Non League show on Sky yesterday and comment was made of the manager suffering some gripes from the fans due to recent form so maybe it’s a good time to head to North Wales but there again maybe it’s not.

I would imagine Wrexham would be rueing the fact this is a midweek fixture, if it had been on a Saturday it would have been a real bumper crowd with the two clubs being amongst the best supported in the league.

Much has been made of the impact or otherwise of Tom Champion. I wouldn’t know as I haven’t seen him yet but I would be surprised if there’s much change from Saturday where City put in what I saw described as a workmanlike display to secure the points. Danny Cowley thought we were better than that and so did I but it wasn’t the best I’ve seen from the Imps although of course it’s three points however you look at it.

Lee Beevers is coming in for praise I see in the Echo as well he might. He’s been putting in some great shifts this season and the manager seems particularly pleased with his progress:-

"Lee's done really well from day dot,” The Imps boss told the paper

"His fitness compared to when we first came has been excellent.

"Of all the players, we've possibly had the biggest impact on Lee. Physically he is in really good condition. He's also ridiculously experienced and is a great organiser. He's one of those players who makes the players around him five per cent better.

They say some strange things don’t they? Ridiculously experienced. Well he is fit certainly. When City re signed Beevers I thought, ok as long as he can still run. He can certainly do that.

Monday, 3 October 2016

David Herd 1934-2016

I was greatly saddened to hear this morning of the death of David Herd, former manager of Lincoln City.

When I first branched out and started following the Imps independently of my Dad, Herd was the manager. It wasn’t a particularly successful period and I believe Herd did not manage again. His tenure was far from disastrous though and ushered in the modern era at the club following years of management by committee and the stellar performance, keeping the club at what is now Championship level, of Bill Anderson. Apart from Colin Murphy’s great effort many years ago when the club looked like once again reaching those heady heights City have rarely seemed likely to recreate those days.

What I do remember is a be suited manager, very smart and the club seemed to be starting to move in the right direction before Herd called it a day. His successor was Graham Taylor so it was as good a time to start following the Imps as any.

I think back to those days and the times that followed. I’m glad I became an Imp and David Herd was there at the very start of my supporting days so I do feel a sense of great loss today.

It’s a sad day.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Good to be back.

“It's oh so nice to go trav'ling
But it's so much nicer, yes it's so much nicer, to come home”.

So goes the words of the song and it was great to be back at Sincil Bank even if my travels did take me to the Nou Camp. Home though is where the heart is.

Whilst I was away City barely troubled the scoreboard as they say but there was still a good crowd waiting to cheer the team on to the pitch and we were all rewarded with a 3.0 win against Danny Cowleys former charges, Braintree. Was it just my imagination or was the boss showing off just a little bit to his former club by having the sprinklers on before the match, Premier League style? Look at this, we’ve got sprinklers!

Cowley bristled a bit when interviewed by Michael Hortin on BBC Radio Lincolnshire after the game when it was suggested the match was not perhaps the pushover it sounded although I thought it was a perfectly valid point. The manager emphasised that Braintree had perhaps been a bit unlucky in their last few games where they might have done rather better than they did. Perhaps Cowley was showing some affection for his former charges but he was trying to say they were a better team than their results suggest and I certainly thought they gave a good account of themselves but City, buoyed by Nathan Arnold’s early goal never looked like slipping up. It does help of course if you can double your lead just when you appear to be struggling a bit, which City did courtesy of Luke Waterfall in the second half.

The Imps signed off in fine style with a cracking strike from Jack Muldoon right at the end and it was a good and entertaining performance from the home side in front of a sizeable contingent of students from the uni in City’s annual, and I think very sensible “come and see what we’ve got to offer” initiative from the club.

For once the team played their part and if I was a student I’d be inclined to make the Imps my other team whilst I was studying in the city. All this and Lincolnshire’s favourite tipple served in the bars, what’s not to like? (Other beverages available)