Monday, 9 January 2017
Tractor Boys fans cover themselves in glory-unlike the team.
I don’t get to away matches much these days, in fact ever since the demise of Boston United I don’t think I’ve seen City away once.
All that had to change of course once the Imps got drawn away to Ipswich Town in the third round of the FA Cup. Essential viewing as many of my fellow supporters agreed.
Away travel produces various emotions. Generally the “welcome” ranges from suspicion to downright hostility. Until we went to Ipswich that is. You could tell from the good natured banter on social media that this trip was going to be different and so it turned out. Leaving aside the magnificent efforts by the Imps this was an away trip that would prove to be an absolute pleasure. We were approached several times in the pub by locals who just wanted to welcome us and ask about the team and management. They knew what was happening at Lincoln and wanted to hear all about it.
On to Portman Road itself and when we arrived it was in full swing and by the time of kick off the away side was rocking. Even then the local fans distinguished themselves applauding the fact that this was the grounds largest away following since the stadium went all seater. At the end hundreds held back to applaud the Imps off the pitch. Classy. If you meet any Tractor Boys at the replay please extend the hand of friendship as they did.
Friendship is not a term I would apply to the relationship between fans and management and the limitations of the team when faced with a non-league outfit, albeit a fit for purpose one, was apparent. In fact I’d go so far as to say that were it not for a striker on loan from Premiership Leicester City, Town wouldn’t have got anywhere near us.
Usually when a team compete against one so much further down the pyramid the team from lower down would take on the role of battling spoilers. Not a bit of it. City not only went toe to toe with the Championship side but matched them in all departments even keeping the ball from Ipswich in long displays of possession passing. Two terrific strikes from Theo kept City on the front foot.
We parked very close to Portman Road and in the ensuing traffic at the end we had plenty of time to re tune our radio to BBC Suffolk and that was an education. It’s fair to say Mick McCarthy has no support left, not from anyone who was prepared to come on to the radio anyway. Those that did were full of praise for the Imps, many expressing the view that a stranger at the game would have been unable to distinguish who were the Championship team and who were the non-leaguers. Some were shocked to have been told by City supporters that in fact they felt City had not really been at the top of their game on Saturday and could play better.
I’m not really sure I disagree with that to be honest. It’s difficult to say when the opposition is one we don’t come into contact with. I did say before the game the first tie was City’s best chance of progressing. Having seen them in the away leg I’m actually quite confident our involvement in the FA Cup may not be over yet.