Andrew Abbott's Blog

Friday, 23 December 2016

Wide blue yonder.

What’s this on the table on my train journey home last night? Why, it’s a copy of the East Anglia Daily Times.

Let’s have a look at the sports pages, Ipswich Town, yes. Oh dear. Mick McCarthy is not very popular is he? Fending off the critics at the AGM. Never mind, a nice easy FA Cup game against a non league team to come in January.

We turn to the letters pages, oh yes, here’s one. The manager had better not have any thoughts of fielding a weakened side, we want a 4.1 win against these upstarts. Furthermore I've heard this side are pretty handy. No slip ups! So they think we’ll score, good start.

I think it fair to say from what I read they’re not happy bunnies down in leafy Suffolk and I can’t help feeling there are some parallels with the previous game, against Oldham, unpopular manager, poor start to the season, unhappy locals.

With probably 4000 if not more Imps due to make the trip we’re possibly not yet done in this competition.

I was greatly looking forward to this game. Even more so now.

Monday, 19 December 2016

City top of the tree for Christmas.

You can forget your Forest Greens and North Ferriby’s, this was a top of the table clash between two organically grown, self-sustaining proper football clubs and what a Christmas feast they served up. I don’t pay a lot of attention to what opposition fans have to say about us but looking at some of the comments forwarded on by twitter users who do it was a fairly churlish response from Tranmere fans who accused the Imps of diving and feigning injury. Takes one to know one is all I have to say about that.

Chatting to a Tranmere fan in the queue (yes queue) for the pre-paid tickets I think he was taken aback at how confident we were, probably we were too. When asked if we expected to be promoted we both said yes. At one time I’d have been wary of upsetting the Gods with such forthrightness. Now I think they are fully behind City. Is there no end to the Cowley effect? Our friend from Tranmere, and it was a friendly encounter, ventured the opinion that a draw would be a good result all round. We just kept quiet about that. Mind you there was quite a spell of this match when I’d have taken a draw but fans and opposition alike should never underestimate the Imps desire to win and that’s where the confidence comes from.

Much comment was made about the penalty given, it was more incredulity where I sit and more of the same in respect of an absolutely stonewall penalty against City that was either missed or, more likely noticed but disregarded, the referee either having come to the conclusion, or had it pointed out to him that the pen he did give should never have been given in a million years. Just thinking back, for all the Tranmere protests, with the benefit of hindsight I couldn’t really see them scoring without that intervention. Tranmere were organised and strong but I think set up for a draw. That plan always comes unstuck of course if your opponents get an early goal as City did.

Another inspired substitution lead to City’s winner and I think an underlining of City’s enhanced prospects this year due to the quality of the bench. The Imps had Adam Marriott to call on and he wasted no time, about two touches to be precise, letting all and sundry know what he was all about.

Tranmere fans were dismissive of the gate. Nearly 6500. Do me a favour. Better by a mile than any other in the league, most of league two and many in league one not to mention the Scottish Premier League. City are back and it’s going to take a monumental effort, or slice of luck to deflect them from their path.

Friday, 16 December 2016

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Particularly if Lincoln City manage to grab the points against Tranmere tomorrow. I don’t know about you but I find myself wishing the days away to the next fixture and they don’t come much bigger than this. There should be another old time gate to greet the teams onto the pitch for what we hope will be a cracker. (Did you see what I did there?)

Christmas goodwill was certainly not on the agenda from the FA in their dealings with the delayed Trophy match, originally with Shaw Lane but now with Nantwich. This rather slipped under the radar for me, I was awaiting an announcement and I only checked the website yesterday to see what was what and saw that the tie had been awarded to Nantwich. It did seem to me having read Shaw Lanes statement on their website they went a long way towards acquitting themselves and could at least have been given another crack at the original match and then the winners of that would play the Imps. Perhaps the FA have their minds elsewhere.

We’ve also had the announcement of more televised games for City. With all these channels looking for good exciting matches the Imps certainly seem to have caught the eye of the media people as well they might.

We had a bit of a pause for breath but all that is now at an end as we anticipate a busy Christmas and New Year period. With City yet to start the Trophy campaign which, minor inconvenience it may be nevertheless will be something the management team at Sincil Bank will surely target as a winnable aspiration and City still in the FA Cup and in the thick of it at the top of the league, club and fans alike will be looking forward to the next few weeks with relish.

Christmas comes but once a year and this one, well, see above.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Trophy postponement gives us all a blank look-again.

For the second weekend running there will be no need to keep the phone charged up to keep in touch with the Lincoln City result. It’s a blank weekend due to the mysterious postponement of the Shaw Lane Trophy fixture.

I heard it suggested that this was a good thing after the all-out effort of the Oldham game but I’m not sure players and management will be of a like mind firstly as the players are young athletes on a roll who, one might imagine, can’t wait for each game to arrive. Secondly the management will want to maintain a settled pace to the fixtures.It was also a chance to chalk off another of Sean Raggetts ban in a relatively low key game.

It’s the only postponement to re arrange so it’s hardly a backlog. Presumably regarded as a relatively gentle trip over to Yorkshire and a bit of a run out (I bet that’s not the Cowley description) by most fans this will now end up a mid week game in Barnsley or elsewhere which is not exactly what the doctor ordered. Still the Trophy, unlike the FA Cup is a winnable aspiration so although it might seem a complication early on one would imagine it is very much on the radar for the club.

Jamie McCombe told the Echo City are now run along the lines of a Championship club in terms of match preparation etc and it’s not difficult to imagine the way things are going. They certainly played like one last Monday despite what the Oldham manager may say.

News also in the Echo that contract talks are starting which is encouraging and those talks will have an eye on possible league status next season which is a real boost to us long suffering fans and board members alike.

Of course the contract talks we would all like to see are those which I also understand are taking place with the manager and a successful conclusion to that would be the best Christmas present any of us could possibly receive this festive season.

Ps. I see since publishing this we have another fixture to rearrange.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Sorry we got beaten by lowly Lincoln. Oldham manager.

Judging by the irate replies to my retweeting the Oldham manager’s apology to his clubs supporters many of you are not best pleased by Mr Robinsons explanation to the clubs fans that his team were basically roughed up by a physical Lincoln side and by the time they’d regained their composure and reasserted their silky skills it was too late. Several of his players were “beaten up” by City. An extraordinary explanation.

For an unbiased opinion I consulted colleagues at work here in Boston and did venture my own view that Oldham were a more sophisticated side with better players but poorer teamwork. Not at all came the reply, you were better than them full stop.

I certainly think it’s really poor form to offer the explanation he did. If he had said we were surprised by Lincoln’s workrate and organisation not to mention finishing in the first half and then got caught cold early in the second half and if we’d just had another ten minutes we’d have forced a draw I think many of us would have agreed. Not that the weather would have allowed it but they’d have still had another go.

The fact of the matter is that, hopefully on City’s part and unfortunately on Oldham’s the two clubs could be competing on equal terms next season but I would be surprised if Mr Robinson gets to pit his wits against long ball Lincoln any time soon.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Cowley to Lincoln: Show us you’re hungry for success. The city replies.

When the Cowley brothers were prised away from Braintree their chairman ventured the opinion that Braintree to Lincoln wasn’t much of a step up. Last night appropriately enough as the pantomime season is about to begin, the Lincoln City supporters said “Oh yes it is!” The Cowleys knew that, with the best will in the world, fantastic season that they’d delivered the crowds at Braintree were always going to be numbered in the hundreds. The management brothers were never going to be content with that.

Now Lincoln City are attempting to forestall any early loss of their managers by offering new improved contracts to the pair, firstly and quite rightly to reward the huge progress made already and of course in an attempt to hang on to the mercurial schemers for as long as possible. Last night will go a long way to persuading the Cowleys that there is plenty of progress to be made, for them and for the Imps, right here in Lincoln as a 7000 crowd awaited them. For most in our team completely new horizons as Paul Farman emotionally pointed out on the radio and for many of the others used to those gates in the hundreds playing in front of a really big crowd for the first time in their lives, but it was what they came here hoping for.

I think it’s only fair to point out that Oldham Athletic, player for player, have some very decent talent. What they’re missing, on last nights evidence, is teamwork and good management practice. For example, after the half time break Oldham ran on and hung about on the pitch getting cold awaiting their opponents and the referee. I don’t think for a moment that happened by chance. City came on and went through their pre second half loosener. All this doesn’t occur by accident.

I’ve been following City for a long, long time. It’s been a slog and nights like Monday have been few and far between in fact, apart from the night when Scunthorpe United were beaten to take us to Cardiff I don’t think I’ve experienced anything quite like it. This team, this club, these supporters now, are such an absolute pleasure to support and be with it’s hard for us long suffering fans to take in but it really is happening.

For the TV audience this game surely had everything and one can only hope City will feature more on the telly with the revenue that brings, even if it means games at inconvenient times. As to the match City surprised themselves, particularly after the start, when it really didn’t look our night, by racing into firstly a two goal lead and added a third straight after half time (see my earlier comments on preparation) surely the game was won.

Oh no it wasn’t, I really must get out of panto mode, back came Oldham, finally giving their fans something to warm them and producing a rip roaring finish that must have delighted BT Sport, if they could see it that is.

I, like you maybe found sleep difficult last night as the images of this fantastic team of ours flashed through my mind.

Sleeplessness of the most welcome kind.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Weekend off.

What with everything else going on in the city it’s probably as well the Imps are not at home this Saturday, particularly as a big crowd is expected for the FA Cup game v Oldham.

It’s also a chance for us fans to catch our breath after the exhausting (mentally) last few weeks. Maybe get the Christmas shopping done although perhaps our idea of getting away from Lincoln for the day might be recommended.

Of course we will have seen the remainder of the FA Cup results come in which will only heighten the sense of anticipation and with the bookies seeming to give us a fighting chance of pulling off an upset one could only hope some stay at home fans may be dragged into Sincil Bank to see what it’s all about. If that’s the case let’s hope the team deliver. At one time this would have been the perfect opportunity for City to show how awful they can be and on telly too but somehow you can’t see this team falling into that trap.

Personally I’m not one for wishing the weekend away but just this once I can’t wait for the match to come round. Let’s just hope by ten o’clock we won’t be humming I don’t like Mondays.