Andrew Abbott's Blog

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Plotting a way forward for the Imps.

There’s a board meeting at the offices of Lincoln City’s sponsors, Software Europe today where the Imps hierarchy convene, no doubt with the addition of Clive Nates on line and one would imagine there are few dark clouds on the horizon to be dealt with.

The board, as with ourselves the fans, will no doubt have an eye on the predators hovering around managers and players most notably Raggett and Woodyard but there could be others. The manager says that’s a good thing and I tend to agree with that. Departures are inevitable and, if the price is right, a good thing for a club with money in the bank already who are then able to go out and source a suitable replacement.

I suspect the managers are here for another season or two and that in itself is persuading the more bankable players to stay put for the moment. The danger is one day of course an unmissable opportunity will come along and we will lose the managers and our star players. Personally the likes of Peterborough United and Aston Villa do not concern me but the name West Ham does. Even then it’s going to happen at some stage and I’m sure we all want the managers to be rewarded for what they have done for us just not yet.

That is where the board come in and I don’t suppose they need the likes of me to tell them this but Lincoln City need to have a plan for the continued development of the club post Cowley brothers. Already I have heard it said that City see Ipswich Town as a model worth following and I heartily endorse that. The thing about the Tractor Boys is they retain the loyalty of their fans through thick and thin and it’s been a bit thin lately yet 16000 still turn up for games in a population area similar to Lincoln.

I hope I’m not clutching at straws here but there are already signs City are heading in the right direction with season ticket sales now heading towards a 5000 target. There’s every chance sales could get there too as it becomes a self-perpetuating phenomenon with fans judging that tickets at least for where people want to be in the stadium start to become scarce and if the team are successful fans could well imagine that unless they purchase a season ticket they might not get to see some matches at all as happened last season. So I think the club are quite right to publicise the credit option for supporters which, when you think about it, even with a bit of interest, supporters can see games for no more than paying on the day. The difference is they have to commit for the whole season.

I think there is a progression being formed in the club with the continued employment of Jamie McCombe on the coaching staff. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s not the next manager in the general scheme of things although I’m perhaps getting ahead of myself here but I do believe City have never been better placed to progress, going into the next season well-funded and with more fans clamouring to support the Imps and with a wealth of business acumen on the board of directors.

There’s certainly never been a better time to follow the Imps and never a better chance of lasting success at a much higher level than we’ve been used to and I hope either today or at some stage an item on the agenda will be is a new 12000 seat stadium sufficient for Lincoln City’s needs?

We live in hope.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Don’t expect any fireworks from me says Cowley.

This was going to be my headline and tone in any case but a look at the Echo’s article up today confirms as much as Danny Cowley perhaps wearily concedes that whilst others may break the bank to secure the players they want it does come at a cost and that is players wages which of course need paying for the length of the agreed contract.

I’m not here to criticise former players but, if we are to believe what we hear are the likes of Lee Angol and Terry Hawkridge really worth twice the wages we were paying? Sure we, and by implication they are in the football league now and a division higher pays higher wages but by our own high standards these two players, well Hawkridge certainly and I suspect the likes of Muldoon, Power and Marriott although that’s not an exclusive list, by virtue of the fact that they were a part of the club, have been offered deals but I suspect that’s as far as it goes, there won’t be any haggling.

So I’m not expecting them all to stay on. By the same token there will be clubs who hope some of the stardust of the last season will still be adhering to the fringe players and they may be prepared to push the boat out to secure their signatures and they can then trumpet they’ve lured them away, what a big club they are etc etc. Good luck to those players, I don’t think there’s anyone amongst us that wouldn’t wish them well.

The season signed off, if you like with the awards ceremony which I watched on Facebook live well sort of. Hilariously when Jimmy Walker was cajoled into a karaoke rendition of Sweet Caroline Facebook deemed that a live musical performance (don’t give up the day job Jimmy) and pulled the broadcast. It took some time to get back live but we did so eventually to see Alex Woodyard, who had cleaned up most of the awards get our own accolade, the fans player of the year. The players voted for Luke Waterfall, another richly deserved gong.

Danny Cowley asks for our patience. He can have anything he wants, if that’s the only price for the season we’ve had he’s got it. Another thing we’ve got is Sam Habergham for another year on his contract we didn’t have to wait for that but it is news very gratefully received as far as I’m concerned.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Here is the news. Not a lot happening.

To which you might say what about Terry Hawkridge and Lee Angol? I’d say in Hawkridges case read the Echo, I can’t put it more succinctly. City made Hawkridge an offer, so did Magpies. To the Imps Hawkridge is a fringe player, to Notts County he’s the next big hope. That tells you something about the relative states of the two clubs. I’ve got no inferiority complex about that. I’m sure if Danny Cowley wanted to match that offer and keep the player he would.

Lee Angol is more of a surprise. From everything I’ve read Cowley believed the player would sign but he didn’t, seduced away by our old friend the Caledonian clap trap merchant, Steve Evans. He must have used all his silky verbal skills to convince Angol that Mansfield Town is a better bet than Lincoln City 2017. Thinking about it, my view is that Lincoln City have ambitions to sweep straight through league two next season, Danny Cowley as good as said that at the annual shareholders meeting. If Angol is not good enough for league one Peterborough United then I’m not too fussed about losing him.

Having said that Angol does have potential and with that in mind, and I would say this wouldn’t I but surely the best place for him would have been under the watchful tutelage of the educators, the Cowleys. We’ll see whether he’s made the right decision.

One thing you can say about Evans is that he’s got an eye for potential and he’s probably unsurpassed in finding talent and selling on for a big profit so I expect Angol to either sink or swim and move on to greater things. My concern with Angol was with his commitment and ability to get past his man. That needed work. The question is will he put the work in?

For those expecting developments any time soon I think you may be disappointed with Danny Cowley saying players come very expensive at this time of year. The fact that Magpies and Stags have pushed the boat out and splashed the cash does not surprise me.

Just don’t expect me to put anything in the bucket collections if it all turns sour.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

So now we know who will join us in the league next season.

They’ve advised us they won’t be hanging about in League Two for long either according to Forest Green Rovers new age chairman Dale Vince. We’ll see about that, they took their time about getting out of the National League given the enormous amounts of money expended in the process.

Not that I’m bitter you understand and unlike some commentators I’m not going to harp on about the fact that this is basically a one man show as who amongst us does not dream of winning the lottery and bunging a big wedge City’s way to speed up the progress already made?

I do feel for Tranmere consigned to another season at the less than glamorous bargain basement league but I’m sure they’ll get over it.

In the meantime I’ll enjoy those stories of fans queuing up to get season tickets for the Imps next season. I haven’t renewed mine yet but I will be doing in due course but this does prompt me to believe the final total of season tickets will be a record and could well be considerably more that the 3000 spoken about already.

An evening with 13000 hysterical women. You can Take That how you like.

Take That at the SSE Hydro Glasgow.

Ok there were a few of us chaps there just to hold the handbags but we were definitely not the centre of attention at Glasgow last Thursday as the nations favourite song and dance trio continued their tour up in the second city of the Empire as it used to be known.

We no longer have an empire of course (Don’t tell Boris) and Take That are down to three but that didn’t stop them sending home the audience of mainly ladies of a certain age home in a state of considerable excitement as they wove their way through old hits, standards and new material in a very artistically constructed entertainment. One thing you do get with Take That is value for money as the performance is far from a selection of songs, it’s an actual show run almost along circus lines as a few songs are performed and then the trio disappear down below as the dancers, actors and others entertain the audience before it all starts again in a very slick routine.

I’m not enough of a fan to advise you of the particular favorites but for a live show you have to say there were no hiccups and the whole thing right down to the carefully choreographed encore proceeded entirely to plan from these seasoned entertainers.

The venue too works like clockwork right down to the endless stream of taxis arriving to ferry the overheated revellers back home from this Wonderland. Just threw that one in so you know I was paying attention.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

These are a few of my favourite things.

So, we’ve kicked the last ball, had the trophy presentation, had the open top bus parade. Time to relax and gather our thoughts before it all starts again.

To start, one or two plaudits, some of which you’ve heard before. I don’t think it would be right not to mention a man I believe prepared the ground for all that has gone on this season, Chris Moyses. I spotted Moyses at a couple of games latterly, I’d like to see him re-join the board. The experience gained from managing the team will be expertise the board could do with.

Next up, we have to thank Clive Nates for choosing us, for so long the ugly ducklings looking on enviously whilst other clubs attracted a benefactor. It’s not just the money it’s his financial and business acumen that is driving the club forward off the field of play. I think we are in really good hands. They say that two things are certain in life, death and taxes. We have to include our managers going on to bigger and better things. I don’t believe that will happen soon but when it does I believe we’ll be prepared.

Finally, Bob Dorrian. I saw him smile on more than one occasion! He deserves it. Bob, you are just as much a part of the success, you kept us going through the dark times. Enjoy your club from now on.

Now to the highlights of the season. The first and only easy win for City came at the beginning as the Imps coasted past North Ferriby. It was the first sign that this might be a special season.

Next came Torquay away. A televised game. This was to become the norm but it was very much a novelty as was the late late show which saw City grab all the points with a last minute smash and grab. Danny Cowley had said City would be stronger as games went on. How right he was.

Next, Wrexham, home. City on the ropes as Alan Power is sent off. With ages to go the Imps dug in and took the points. What a performance!

Then right up to date with two astonishing comebacks as the Imps were down and out not once but twice as they turned certain defeats into victories against Torquay at home and Gateshead away. We then knew the Gods were with us.

In between the league campaign we had the totally unaccustomed pleasure of not just a cup run but one that took us all the way to the quarter final of the F A Cup not to mention the semis of the Trophy. Particular highlights for me were Ipswich away, what nice people and Arsenal who treated us as equals and gave us a memorable day out despite the result. Even the referee was on our side as he brought proceeds to a halt right on ninety minutes. If I lean towards any premiership side it would be Spurs but Arsenal went right up in my estimation after that.

As to players I have to say Matt Rhead lit up my season, I’m so glad he stayed with us. Also I really enjoyed watching Sam Habergham, all the defence to be honest and Terry Hawkridge but the man I voted for in the player of the season was Alex Woodyard. What a privilege it has been to watch him perform.

Finally, the Cowleys. I think back to the day they were appointed, to their encouraging start and their polished PR that gave us hope that finally, after all these years it could be our turn. Whatever you may say about luck, whether our cheeky Imp might not be such a good talisman, lady luck is with us. The managers will say, with justification that hard work brings luck, as indeed it does. I bless the day the Cowleys walked through our door.

Have a great summer. Buy a season ticket and a few bits from the club shop. Up The Imps!