Andrew Abbott's Blog

Monday, 27 November 2017

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I didn’t go to Saturday’s game as I had a prior engagement. You might know it would turn out to be a win although, as has been the case a lot this season a game of two halves. This either means City don’t have it in them to perform for ninety plus minutes or, as many fans are saying, it emphasises Danny Cowleys powers of persuasion.

However fans saw some good football although I did wonder at the stickability of some of our newly acquired supporters, two thousand of whom deserted Sincil Bank from the previous Saturday with various reasons for doing so. Coventry City are certainly the glamour club of the division this year and two defeats can dampen enthusiasm but if you’re going to not go after a couple of defeats you’re going to miss some good games. It was cold too. I’ll not comment on that except to say if you’re going to stay indoors till May maybe you need a better coat or perhaps some of those hand warmer thingies?

Saturday produced two very welcome developments. Matt Green scored and a very fine header it was, I wish I’d been there to share his joy and Luke Waterfall played. I wish I’d seen that too.

Unlike last year we’re back to the traditional Lincoln City experience in the cup so it’s the second round and we're not in it.

The manager has decreed a day off for all concerned so it’s Christmas shopping for me and maybe you too unless you need some new winter clothing?

Friday, 24 November 2017

Imps look to restore fortress Lincoln.

Sincil Bank has been our stronghold for some time now and the Imps will be hoping it continues this weekend after last Saturdays defeat followed by null points on the road at Colchester. Although City were beaten last Saturday I think there was enough about the performance to encourage us. I know also that some regulars couldn’t get tickets so although I expect the gate to be good hopefully everyone that wants to go will be able to.

I defer to no one in my admiration of Danny Cowley but I’m going to take issue with him on one point. He says getting to the playoffs this season would surpass last season exploits. I think nothing short of the championship would surpass last season and he seems to forget we are no strangers to the league two playoffs. As you know we enjoyed if that’s the word, two finals in Cardiff. Typically for Imps fans it was Cardiff not Wembley.

There is a long way to go before we even start to think about play offs and championships and the manager has got to solve the goal scoring reluctance if we are to really make progress. An awful lot of confidence seems to be placed in the Imps ability to substantially recruit after Christmas and I do hope we're not going to be disappointed after that. Having said that Danny and Nicky’s ability to pull rabbits out of the hat can sometimes give a children’s Christmas party magician a run for his money.

An attacking version of Neal Eardley would do very nicely if you could see your way clear Santa.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

That sinking feeling.

I was having a word with someone at the office about matters Sincil Bank and even when I was saying it I realised my words could be construed as insensitive, arrogant even. I was musing on the fact that City were playing in front of the biggest crowds in the league on top of record season ticket sales and a magnificent cup run yet still weren’t able, seemingly to compete with the big hitters financially in the league. This to a Boston United supporter. I really should be more mindful of fellow football fans feelings.

So when I say trying to listen to match commentary this season isn’t it as easy as it was last given that you have to listen on an actual radio now and we only have one, on the bedside table, either that or out in the car and I certainly didn’t fancy that. I can well imagine that would go down like a lead balloon with those of you who actually went to Colchester and saw for themselves City’s capitulation last night. Even Danny Cowley sounded fed up and it’s not often you hear him criticise the players but he did and they should certainly sit up and take notice of that.

Cowley did say he could take defeat, just about which I’d guess is no different to the rest of us but it comes on the back of a home loss, a rarity admittedly, where City had performed reasonably well but were left pointless. I think Cowley thought last night was very much a missed opportunity and his attitude to missed opportunities is do I not like that?

It’s two losses in an otherwise satisfactory season but I don’t like being fed up with City and I don’t like to hear the manager say he’s fed up either.

The Imps have the opportunity to put us all in good spirits next Saturday which is another home game and furthermore I’m unable to go. If that’s not a recipe for a rip roaring performance and a goal fest I don’t know what is.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

That’s just the way it is.

Danny Cowley responded to criticism on social media, which he admitted he hadn’t seen for himself with a statistic that showed City were the second best performing after Sheffield United, of the promoted clubs. He needn’t have bothered for my sake, I’m perfectly happy.

Maybe I’m a bit sheltered from the pundits in the crowd, I don’t hear any of this griping I keep reading about in my seat in the old folks h…. sorry, Selenity Stand. Strangely this would, at one time been the go to area for moaners and groaners but honestly I don’t pick up anything other than the odd gripe about a chance missed or a clearance ballooned.

Well, there you go football is all about opinions and you can tell what most people think by the size of the crowd. I also see, I don’t know by what criteria this one is based on, we are the best atmosphere in all the leagues, beating Anfield and St James’ Park and the third highest fourth tier average gate in Europe. I suppose that one can be verified although 9500 admittedly highly charged fans at a great game beating the Geordies for passion? Maybe we do, I think we’re all still pinching ourselves at the revolution we’re experiencing.

I’ve never been to Colchester and I’m not going tonight but it’s one of those places that’s not a million miles away but feels like it when you’re driving there I’d imagine. Those that do go will deserve our admiration as true fans and I’m sure the players appreciate them. Plenty will go though and Danny needs to look at the dedication of those supporters to appreciate the true feelings of Imps, not those who hide away on the net voicing their “concerns”. They may not even be City fans in any event.

Tonight will present a rather truer picture of where we are at than Saturday, the two clubs are quite evenly matched in the league. It’s a difficult place to go but as we are finding out, where isn’t?

Monday, 20 November 2017

Imps 1 Cry Babies 2

They may not be famous any more but my goodness me it was just like watching the Premier League on the telly as Coventry City writhed and collapsed on the floor, usually in an attempt to break up the play when Lincoln had it. Ably assisted by an awestruck referee who thought everything Coventry did must be ok because, well, they used to be famous.

Not that Coventry needed any help as they were, by some distance, the best side we have seen at Sincil Bank this season. I’d be very surprised if they’re not in League One next year, they were excellent, as were City in parts but unfortunately not quite enough.

Yet when the Imps took the lead through Matt Rhead, who was majestic, we dared to believe that something was on. The crowd, already at least League One standard sensed it too and the noise was terrific. It’s tempting to say a good advert for the level of football except it would be a bit like putting a Grand Prix on the TV and saying come to Cadwell Park. It was well above the likes of FGR and Accrington who I note couldn’t even scrape 2000 to see a side third in the table.

Still good crowds don’t win leagues, good and compelling football does which is why Coventry will probably win the league and City may be a good bet for the playoffs.

I’d settle for that.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Back to the future.

There’s certainly a big one this weekend with the much anticipated arrival at Sincil Bank of Coventry City. Not since the heady days of our all too brief sojourn in League One or the Second Division as it was styled at the time which featured amongst other notables, Manchester City have the Imps played such illustrious opponents.

I recall also a previous promotion (you don’t have to have too much of a head for figures), Graham Taylors side this time and Portsmouth were the big noises but I don’t think either of those clubs and the others that were around at the time engendered the sort of interest the fans are conjuring up at the moment. The game sold out on Monday and all fans without a ticket can hope for is a spare seat surrendered by a season ticket holder who can’t make the game.

Of course Sincil Bank was a bigger capacity in those days but even so I don’t recall sustained 8-9000 gates and I certainly don’t recall the sort of big match atmosphere were generating now what with the 617 and the associated noise that brings with it as the fans join in losing some of their inhibitions to sing and clap along. Even in the Selenity Stand us old codgers aren’t allowed to snooze the afternoon away, Danny Cowley would quickly be turned towards us giving us the crank it up exhortation. It’s not just the players who are required to go the extra mile.

I’m not going to harp on about it but, just as with the Trophy last year the Checkatrade Trophy this has given the squad members the chance to stake their claim to a start and Harry Anderson and Elliott Whitehouse certainly did that. I can’t imagine if they are both fit that those players will not feature at some stage. Has the lack of goals issue found a solution? It would be nice to think so and of course when they start to come they can emanate from other areas of the team too. Whatever you may think of individual strikers I’m sure, like me you just want goals from them and after that all is forgiven but I don’t think anyone can be accused of lack of effort.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Imps gradually getting the point.

For years Crewe Alexandra bumped along with City in the Fourth Division and then disappeared off my radar, up at the heady heights of what we would now call the Championship. There were others not necessarily at the same time, Grimsby Town, Barnsley, Bradford City. I was very envious which is not like me.

Crewe had a reputation for playing good football with young players either brought through their own ranks or borrowed. I think they had a tie up with Liverpool. That sort of arrangement is denied in the main for Lincoln City for geographical reasons although we did have one with Everton and we know what that or rather who that brought us and very pleased with that acquisition we are too.

Anyway, as is usually the case, certainly with Crewe and Grimsby, here they are back in the division and here we are too although as we are all painfully aware we don’t have golden memories of mixing it with the big boys. If you do you’ll be getting on a bit now.
It’s been a bit of a learning curve lately and I think we’re all now recognising that further progress is not going to be achieved in a hurry. Personally I haven’t given up on further glory this season although a mid-table finish would be perfectly acceptable.

That's also what we’re supposed to think but I don’t imagine the manager would be satisfied with that, it’s in his nature to be winning. All the time. We’re certainly in limbo now unless somehow somebody starts scoring or a combination of scorers emerge. Most of us believe the transfer window will bring some relief to the relative goal drought. Having said that not many get conceded so all is not lost.

I’d guard against too much optimism for the window too unless we can get a good loan or two in. No one is going to be releasing twenty goals a season men at Christmas unless there’s a very good reason

There’s a hint there if you care to take it.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

City progress. In more ways than one.

I’ve really enjoyed the Checkatrade Trophy. It’s made a nice change from the trench warfare that the league can be. If this is a competition for squad teams then maybe you can argue that ours is better than Mansfield Town’s or Notts County’s. Perhaps there’s something to be said for a smaller setup.

The first half last night against Notts County maybe reflected the weather although an enterprising City seemed the team that wanted the game more despite the fact it was the Magpies who needed a win to progress. However it was County that took the lead following a bit of a howler that saw Jonathan Forte with only the keeper to beat which he did with ease. City levelled with an own goal that you’d like to say City would have put in had the defender not but with the Imps finishing at the moment who knows?

I’ve seen a lot of tournament football at junior level and it was pleasing to see City progress from the group stage after three good performances in the same format. The last round saw a spectacular free kick but last night’s effort from Josh Ginnelly was an absolute pearler and lit up a drab Sincil Bank and sent us home with a spring in our step and looking forward to the draw.

Much has been made of the reserve team nature of the teams clubs have put out but it has at least given us and more importantly the manager the chance to see those players that would like to have more game time set out their stall. In that respect Elliott Whitehouse did his chances no harm at all. There was an interesting experiment if you like where Michael Bostwick played in midfield first half and Alex Woodyard the second. The Imps looked a vastly superior outfit in the second spell and maybe there will be a different look to the defence when Sean Raggett moves on. Ellis Chapman had a few minutes again and he looks a real prospect. Not naming any names but there were others that did not shine. Certainly not in that bracket would be Harry Anderson. Injury and in Billy Knotts case an unjustified red card have not done them any favours at all.

I really need to find another expression for the Checkatrade Trophy other than much maligned but for me it was definitely an evening usefully spent and I look forward to the home tie that the Imps efforts have ensured.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

It’s not all black and white as Lincoln City take on the Magpies.

There are so many imponderables to consider as City prepare to face Notts County tonight at Sincil Bank and I’m really looking forward to it. Will Paul Farman play? Yes I think so. What about Elliott Whitehouse, maybe a start for Ellis Chapman?

Far from being a reserve game, the Imps squad is in the main players who have a bona fide claim to a first team place and in Notts County we have opponents who have exceeded expectations as opposed to a club just down the road from them (and us) who have spent lots and achieved little so far. It all adds up to an intriguing tie in which City need a draw to be sure of progressing.

The statisticians tell us City also need to avoid getting beaten by more than four goals and they will still be through. I’m quietly confident they can hold out for that.

John Schofield and Tony Lormor will be in the fan zone tonight. You can say what you like about this competition, that sounds like a pretty good night to me.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

To be or not to be.

That’s the second Shakespeare reference in one weekend. This stuff isn’t thrown together you know. Well, as we now know it’s not to be and the only route to Wembley for the Imps is the much maligned, by some of you, Checkatrade Trophy.

I mentioned after the Lord Mayors Show and there’s the analogy. One day cheering crowds, next clearing up the horse droppings and analyzing what went wrong. As we all know it’s the lack of goals wot did it. By the time City get to Wembley maybe Lincoln will have a Lord Mayor. The city keeps getting asked to apply only to be told we can’t have one. Bit like trips to the national stadium we keep trying but failing to gain entrance. If your names not on the list you’re not coming in.

Fortunately many of us really enjoyed the ride last season realising this was a once in a lifetime experience and embracing it for what it was.

I would recommend you do the same now that so many fans are visiting Sincil Bank. It’s easy to support a team that’s doing well, not so easy to keep up the momentum after a few blank weeks.

I will say this though, the longer you continue to support the team the less likely these current days will fade and come to be seen as a one off. Up the Imps!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Loyaulte me lie.

With City away at Wimbledon an opportunity arose to give the good lady a shopping opportunity and myself a chance to see the Richard III exhibition which arose following the discovery of the last English King to die in battle, his resting place unheralded and ignominiously under a car park in the centre of Leicester.

It wasn’t quite as bad as it seemed. The Kings mutilated body was hurriedly interred in the choir of Greyfriars Church Leicester having been carried to the city after his death. The new King, Henry VII did later order a tomb of sorts to be erected over the grave but the whole lot was lost in Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries which probably suited the Tudors whose claim to the throne of England was possibly shakier than that of the last Plantagenet King, Richard III.

They say the victors write the history books and boy did this last of the Plantagenets get a bad press. He did have a form of misalignment of the spine and this was woven into the sort of character assassination our modern day newspapers would be proud of perpetrated chiefly by England’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare was a great and beautiful writer but he knew which way the wind was blowing and there was no advancement of his career to be had in glorifying the reign of Richard.

They say modern politics is a rough trade but it’s positively genteel when compared to medieval affairs of state. We learned at school the names and dates of the various battles and death in such circumstances is reduced to bloodless takeovers. It wasn’t like that at all. The nobility at the top of society had impeccable manners and a thuggish attitude to warfare. Basically anything goes.

So Richard met his end at Bosworth heroically defending his crown. The reality was that he was cornered by overwhelming opposing forces loyal to Henry Tudor and had his head smashed in. Even after death some kind fellow ran his sword up the body’s rear and the King was stripped naked and carried to Leicester on the back of a horse, his guffawing victors no doubt having a jolly good laugh at the deposed Kings expense. Henry VII hurredly had himself crowned before anyone got any other ideas.

All this is informatively brought to life in the displays. You can even see the empty grave now covered over with a glass floor. The Monarchs new resting place is a rather more dignified tomb in Leicester Cathedral just over the road. If you’re at all interested in history or perhaps saw the tale of the discovery of the body I’d recommend it.

Oh, perhaps should have given you a translation, it means loyalty binds me. Quite appropriate for an Imp.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Lincoln City couldn’t-could they?

Well here we are in the first round of the FA Cup. What a nice change to be coming in at the first round proper but whether City progress is to be ascertained and certainly the chances of emulating last season’s heroic efforts are about as likely as winning the lottery. I do have to tell you given the choice I’d take the six numbers thank you very much.

I had a look at City’s youngsters in the week talking of the FA Cup as they entertained Coventry City. This was the youth version. As you might expect from such an illustrious club Coventry had some very good players, not that City didn’t, Ellis Chapman taking the eye of course and taking Danny Cowley’s eye too as he was not only there but had a word with the player as the second half was about to start. He’s obviously very much on the managers radar and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ellis make his full league debut before too long and almost certainly he’ll get another run out in the Checkatrade Trophy team again if not a start.

There were plenty of Imps in the Selenity Stand on Tuesday night many like me taking advantage of the fact the game was free to season ticket holders and even a mini 617 squadron presence too making a lot of noise.

So an interesting week in Impdom and a diversion from the usual league fare. Hopefully a chance of an upset of sorts but in all honesty a win for City or a draw and a replay at Sincil Bank wouldn’t be all that much of a surprise after our exploits last season but we know all about that after the Lord Mayors Show feeling so I’m not getting overexcited just yet.