Sunday, 23 April 2017
Imps, you have served your time and may now go free.
I wrote ages ago, when Lincoln City were still a league club but, it seemed to me about to surrender that status that the way back would be significantly more difficult than getting relegated. It’s been no surprise to learn that would be the case.
Never really accepted in the non league fraternity, in my view, we were, as a former league club with a big stadium a lot of smaller clubs grand day out. If I'm right about the lack of acceptance by non league it was only to be expected as we didn’t accept it either. Instead of knuckling down to the task in hand we flirted with even greater ignominy, constantly looking wistfully over the fence at the Shangri-La we’d left or rather been dumped out of feeling sorry for ourselves as we plied our trade at some of the remoter outposts of the football fraternity.
Fortunately help was at hand and it started, for me when Chris Moyses was appointed, to general eye rolling and sighing. This was what we had come to, we’re operating with an unpaid manager. Moyses however stopped the rot, even flirted with the promotion fringes. At any rate it enabled the board, who I had accused of conditioning the supporters for a permanent life at step five level, to start to turn the finances round. I was wrong, the board still had fire in their bellies and they were about to spring a surprise of their own. The improvement in the finances attracted Clive Nates to the club. To your eyes and mine, a wealthy man nevertheless the sort of investment Nates was talking about would not buy him a place at footballs top table, nowhere near but it was a fortune to the likes of Lincoln City and to his credit, citing an alliance from some way back with his favourites, Everton, Nates chose City as his project. What a happy day that was.
The Nates money and the ability of City to move forward, the result of good financial housekeeping enabled the club to attract the attention of the Cowley brothers who had enjoyed considerable success further down the football pyramid and wanted to try their model as they described it on a full time professional club. Not much of a step up said their chairman of the move but over 10,000 at Sincil Bank yesterday confirmed they were right to choose the Imps.
Few at the club or in the stands expected the season that followed culminating in the joyous scenes at the stadium yesterday. The success on the field is just the tip of the iceberg compared to the metamorphosis that has seen the football club rise from another small club to one that has real potential. There is money in the bank but that is only the start of the story. For me the crux of the turnaround has been the re connection of the club and city and the surrounding area, we have fans travelling far and wide to support the club and realise their dream of becoming another Ipswich Town or dare I say it, a sort of mini Barcelona, where the football team becomes so synonymous with the area that it is indivisible from it.
I’ve written before that Sincil Bank is not an intimidating place for opposition teams, that needs addressing in any new stadium but rather the unquestioning support of the fans and the huge noise generated enables our players to give of their best and raise their game to a level greater than even they thought they were capable of. If a City player tries something and falls flat on his face that support enables the player to dust himself off and try it again. If he succeeds the noise is deafening. That’s why, in my view many of the players who have come on loan have prospered here. They may feel a square peg in a round hole at their clubs, here they are accepted and lauded.
I can’t begin to describe to you what happiness I felt yesterday. I’ve followed City for over fifty years and that championship was just the third I’ve seen with my own eyes. You’ve got to have a good memory to support the Imps but when they do hit the spot it’s all the sweeter and no season has been as sweet and as satisfying as the one we’ve just witnessed.