Andrew Abbott's Blog

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Lincoln City close the door on pre season preparations.

I’ve got to say it was a pretty poor turnout for the friendly against Walsall which doubled as Lee Beevers testimonial. I suppose this was not your traditional benefit game, Beevers had not completed ten years service and the opposition was selected to give the Imps a good pre season workout not provide a seat selling opposition to see off one of the crowds favourites but even so I thought more Imps would turn up.

Having said that Walsall provided a good test for the new look Imps squad and I found it a most enjoyable afternoon trying to work out who would be in the starting line up at Wycombe next Saturday. Several players took the eye starting with the jewel in the crown I suppose, Michael Bostwick and of course our own diamond, Alex Woodyard. These two will have League Two midfielders waking up in a cold sweat I predict, that is once they’ve untied themselves from the granny knot they’ve been laced up in. Bostwick is the sort of player fans instantly warm to and we know all about Woodyard who showed his class when required to shepherd away from danger a Walsall player who was threatening to break free. Woodyard ushered him straight down a cul-de-sac that he was never getting out of.

Anderson looked very lively I thought as did Knott and Ginnelly is going to have us purring this winter I’m sure. I’m not so certain of where the goals are going to come from but by the same token I don’t think Danny Cowley has given up on further signings and of course he has until the end of August I think to add to the roster. That also means predatory forces have till then to sign our players but I didn’t get the impression Sean Raggett had his mind on other things.

I did like the look of Palmer but I got the impression there was a lack of connection with the rest of the team in his case. I suspect Cowley has some unfinished business in that area of the team but when he came on Matt Rhead looked a fine figure of a man, in great shape and what I really like about him is that very little is wasted about his play. His headers find a man as do his flicks and tricks and I’m sure those who thought he may flounder in League Two are going to have to eat their words. I don’t expect to see quite so much of him (no pun intended) but as ever those appearances he does make will, I’m sure be a masterclass in economy of movement and efficiency. Underestimate Rhead at your peril.

All in all then an interesting and pleasurable afternoon at Sincil Bank. I usually feel at this time of year that football has come round again rather too soon. Not this year, I can’t wait.

Friday, 28 July 2017

A fine servant to the club.

If, like me you’re not a big fan of pre-season friendlies Saturday presents an opportunity to see a game that’s more than meaningless and at the same time pay due respect to a player that has done us proud over the years, Lee Beevers.

That’s what I’ll be doing and I hope plenty of others will too because Beevers deserves to know he is still in our hearts and minds. It’s quite apparent from his demeanour that Lincoln City out of all the clubs Beevers has represented is the one that he regards as home. He has been ever present at matches despite the terrible injury he sustained playing for the Imps, popping up on TV and showing support to his team mates despite his incapacity.

Lee Beevers future is to say the least precarious. The club have done right by him, in my view but there will come a time in the not too distant future when he will be as fit as he’ll ever be and will need to take the next step in his career. I can’t see that being a player for the Imps. Maybe he’ll not even be able to play at all at professional level. I’m crossing my fingers I’m too pessimistic.

I know a few ex footballers and they always seem to make a living out of football one way or another so things could be worse but there must be uncertainty in his mind. Saturday’s game will not present Lee with a life changing cash amount. That’s not the idea I’m sure although the player seems grateful enough for the clubs gesture. It’s more about recognising the commitment Lee has demonstrated, week after week and his continued association with the club during his injury lay off.

I think, as fans, we could be turning up to what may well be an interesting afternoon of football not to mention (for us oldies) the chance to give Walsall’s manager, Jon Whitney, a former Imp, a good reception. He could do with one, his own fans have fallen out with him. It would be time well spent as it’s the last game before the league starts and a chance to see the new look side . The fact that we will pay tribute to Lee Beevers makes it unmissable in my view.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Froome ever the diplomat.

I’ve been a cyclist all my life and I’ve followed the Tour de France ever since I owned my first TV set. I don’t reserve my support for Brits. Bernard Hinault was a particular favourite, Steven Roche another.

Latterly, with the pre eminence of the Sky team we’ve been treated to dominance on the continent that has never been there before. Bradley Wiggins was a colourful winner but even when he was taking the plaudits on the Champs Elysees there was a gangly figure about to take his crown, Chris Froome. Froome is an enigma, born in Africa, he’s nevertheless a Brit but where Wiggins was quickly bestowed with a knighthood after his one win Froome has had to be content with an OBE. Now, after his fourth title that has to be put right.

This year’s contest was deliberately skewed away from Froome by the choosing of a route designed to appeal to his competitors. He still won. I don’t complain about that and I suspect neither would Froome. It’s not particularly in the competition’s interest to have one man dominating but the fact remains that Froome is stage racing and particularly the Tour de France’s tour de force. He can’t stop winning it.

Froome specialises in mountain finishes and time trials. They were reduced this year. Insofar as it’s possible to feel sympathy for the French it’s rather like us with football. They’re supposedly the dominant nation in cycling yet they can’t win the TDF to save their lives. Their best hope, Romain Bardet having finished second last year, finished third this. He was probably only on the podium at all due to Sky’s disinclination to have their own man, Mikel Lander upset the applecart by gaining the two seconds he needed to claim a podium finish himself.

Through it all Froome just got on with the job of securing the race with what he does best, the time trial. He also has the best team behind him in Sky for whom the architect of all the success, Sir Dave Brailsford, has rather blotted his copybook of late resulting in Froome getting perhaps more flack on the roadside than is strictly necessary. Brailsford got a knighthood too. Froome ignores all that thanking the disappointed French fans for their fantastic support in halting French. When I think of some superannuated football players strutting their pampered stuff around the stadia of the world picking up millions for doing not a lot you have to admire these cycling athletes even if they don’t help themselves occasionally.

So far Froome has avoided the doping inspectors attention. I personally believe he is clean. I do hope I’m right in that, I’d be most surprised if he wasn’t, that just wouldn’t be the Froome way.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Lincoln City serve notice on League Two.

Just when you were probably looking forward to a good nights rest after those sticky evenings of late Lincoln City kept their supporters tossing and turning for all the right reasons announcing the signings of Michael Bostwick and Harry Anderson from Peterborough United just before bed time last night.

Does this signify some sort of tectonic shift in power and influence here in the mysterious east? Do Posh deem the players surplus to requirements? Either way it’s a mighty double signing for the Imps who have coveted Anderson for some time as we know but to obtain the signature of Bostwick, I was going to say prise away but he was on the transfer list as Posh always do with players in the last year of their contract but nevertheless the captures represent a seismic shift in the profile of the club and is bound to have got the rest of the league sitting up and taking notice.

I’ll bet a certain well nourished Scotsman is spluttering into his cornflakes this morning at that news. He probably thought he’d dealt City a huge blow signing Lee Angol from under our noses but now he knows he’s only got the apprentice with the Imps scooping up the sorcerers themselves.

The club in general and Clive Nates in particular have been, rightly, playing down City’s prospects in the immediate future, Nates pointing out City’s infrastructure is still far from fit for purpose for life certainly above league two but nevertheless the club have announced their intention of having a good tilt at going straight through the league we are now entering as many of us hoped they would. If last year’s squad was good then this one is, for us, out of this world and surely fans can hardly wait for the season to start and see how the new look team does.

We can allow ourselves a pat on the back as the season tickets sales and enthusiasm in general must have persuaded the board that there is plenty of steam left in the supporters zeal and desire to get behind the club and the players. Those new players know they are coming to a club where they will be well backed, home and away with a very large following of motivated fans who will encourage them to do their best and show their best and if they fall flat on their faces, well, you only do that when you’re really trying and that’s all we ask.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Some great news but a reality check needed.

Alex Woodyard has agreed to extend his stay with Lincoln City once again. That is good news by anybody’s standard. Given that the manager was trying to tie down Woodyard and Sean Raggett one must assume either Raggett does not want to sign an extended deal or negotiations are going to be more protracted. Either way we shouldn’t be perturbed.

I think we have to be realistic about both players, they will move on to bigger and better things sooner or later. Neither owe us anything after last season.

Woodyard is a different animal to Raggett. He’s Cowleys man. He’s followed Cowley wherever he’s gone and he’ll do so again in my view so when Danny departs so will Alex. What comforts me is that Danny and Nicky Cowley, whilst full of ambition want to take our club further forward before moving on. I think we can pat ourselves on the back for partly facilitating that. If crowds had risen to four or five thousand and season ticket sales panned out at say three thousand the managers might have come to the conclusion that their time at Lincoln was coming to a close.

As it happens Lincoln City were, to all intents and purposes the best supported team in the National League, along with Tranmere. Now, thanks to season ticket sales they will be up there at the top of the best supported League Two clubs. We need to keep it that way. The Cowleys will want to see us filling Sincil Bank on a regular basis, even if results do not always go our way.

That’s what we have to do to keep them in my view and even then they’ll go eventually so enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Making hay while the sun shines.

We’re all still basking in this, for us City fans, unaccustomed optimism and general feelgood factor. Enthusiasm has continued throughout the summer as evidenced by the fact that season tickets continue to be bought even after the reduced price cut off and the level of interest in the forthcoming pre-season friendly against Lincoln United.

The cynic in me wonders what will happen to all this new found bonhomie and confidence and particularly attendance figures once the inevitable downturn occurs. Hopefully a sea change has occurred with Imps fans and interest in the team will surmount any negativity which would be the result of a setback or two. The likes of Ipswich, Norwich and Burnley to quote a few seem to have mastered that loyalty conundrum, no reason to suppose we should necessarily be any different to them.

Whilst I’m in this, for me, unusual bout of uncertainty the acid test will of course come once the managers decide to cash in their chips and move on to bigger and better things. We can only hope that when that time comes we ourselves will have moved onwards and upwards so that a continuity starts to assert itself due to our enhanced status and we can attract a better quality manager to carry on the good work. That’s where fan loyalty comes in both from the point of the selling power of the club and also maintaining the confidence of the board to continue investing.
One hope in that regard is that maybe the next manager is already at the club, watching and learning. Knowing what we do about the Cowleys and the board I don’t think that’s too forlorn a hope.

In the meantime of course everything seems to be proceeding according to plan even given that some of our squad players have moved on. There was an inevitability about that but those players do, I’m sure leave with our best wishes.

We the fans are the constant in all this although there is an admirable continuity emanating from the board with new additions added all the time making their own financial and expertise contribution. As for us, we need to keep what we’re doing. It’s not too much to ask for our support whilst it’s all going so well. The trick will be to continue if it all goes a bit pear shaped. Are you up for the challenge?