Andrew Abbott's Blog

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Not a big sculpture fan but I’d have liked Moore.

From the land- Henry Moore, Ewen Henderson and other artists. The Collection Lincoln.

Henry Moore is the big draw at this offering at the Collection to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest which is Magna Carta’s less celebrated cousin. I saw both in the special exhibition at Lincoln Castle last year and it was quite a moving experience. I’m not a huge fan of sculpture but when such a celebrated artist as Henry Moore is on show in your home town there’s really no option in my book but to go and see for yourself.

Moore is the chap who does those rather Picasso style carvings that make you want to run your hands over the stonework but the customary do not touch signs are up to prevent such tactile explorations more’s the pity as it’s like trying to keep your hands off Marilyn Monroe, almost irresistible but rules are rules. Also a matter of regret is the fact that there’s so few of his monumental sculptures which are Moore’s trademark and the exhibition is padded out by drawings by Moore and the lesser known Henderson and others but it was well worth the effort and quite a coup for a city of Lincoln’s size.

In fact it’s been quite a year on the back of Magna Carta and the associated Charter of the forest which, added to the refurbishment of the castle and forthcoming embellishment of the tourist offering at Lincoln Cathedral, the city is fast becoming quite a tourist draw.

Whether that is a good or bad thing I’ll leave to you but there’s no doubt about it for the culture vulture there’s certainly plenty to see.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Rampant City summon up the ghost of season past.

Lincoln City got off to a flyer this afternoon against a good Exeter City side who gave every indication they might make the play off lottery despite losing. The Imps set about their task with relish. Until the Grecians scored that is. Talk about taking the wind out of your sails, City looked devastated and it might have got even worse if Exeter had scored again instead of rattling the goal frame. It took some time to get back in the game although I felt Lincoln always looked the better side.

Like Grimsby before them Exeter were felled by the old one two. It was one two three for the Mariners but Exeter are made of sterner stuff than them. Nevertheless not many teams come back from two goals in quick succession but somehow Exeter did and it looked like a win at Carlisle on Monday was going to be imperative. It probably still is but City looking every inch their last season’s selves refused to settle for the point and treated the best attendance of the season to their best performance of this season and perhaps many more besides, we were exhausted just watching.

I don’t jump to conclusions about City’s players and I never leapt on the bandwagon of criticism that some players have endured. Those self same players are now becoming heroes and quite rightly so but I just hope that the praise now raining down on the heads of, particularly Matt Green and Ollie Palmer is received in the spirit in which it’s offered and not in a jaundiced way. These two in particular represent, for me the spirit of the age and it’s remarkably similar to the never say die attitude that propelled the club out of the pit of despair they were in and into the (relatively) elysian fields we’re now enjoying. The players are different, the ethos the same. The only constants are ourselves the fans and the Cowleys and, in this week of yet more uncertainty about them it is their motivation that is propelling the team forward but I like to think we’re playing our part.

As to the Cowleys we’re just going to have to get used to it. I don’t think they’ll be going to Ipswich if only because, as a result of their efforts Lincoln City really do offer a more stable platform for continued success than many other seemingly more glamorous opportunities and you only had to look at today with a whisker short of 10000 in the ground and the financial stability that is not the lot of many managers. Not many clubs would enjoy the sort of support City are now producing. Perhaps more tellingly let’s think back to the Crewe debacle. What was the City fans reaction to that? More noise. These things don’t go unnoticed.

On we go. I’ve just got a feeling there are many at today’s game who, after that feast of football entertainment might fancy a bit more before the weekends up even at the expense of a long trip north with work in the morning.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

The big match, which one would that be then?

I have to admit I’ve been a little amused by the protestation of Exeter City fans at the allocation of tickets for tomorrow’s game. They’ve sold all of theirs and would really like some more but can’t justify the Stacey West stand. Why can’t we be moved to a different area they ask? Because it’s all full.

It’s not often that we can compare ourselves to the likes of Manchester United but it’s the same situation they must face all the time. Tickets for games for away fans will be limited to as few as they can get away with as they could, if they were allowed to, sell them all to their own fans.

It’s not a complete comparison as United are one of those clubs with global appeal. Many of their supporters are not really fans in the accepted sense of the word at all. We found that at Barcelona when we went too. They have the shirt but the only association is Barca and Man U are famous and people want to see them.

City aren’t in the same orbit at all but it’s the same problems, welcome as they are. Exeter fans will see what I’m talking about tomorrow and they’ll certainly know we’re real alright.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Point gained or two points lost? The good news is the season hasn’t ended yet.

There was a lot of disappointment on social media last night after Lincoln City failed to gain a win at Morecambe. Some fans, maybe with a view to tempting providence, pronounced that it was the end of our promotion quest rather like that Forest Green Rovers fan who predicted his team would win the league last season with most of it to go. Ironically they did us a bit of a favour yesterday, beating Mansfield.

The fact of the matter is, it’s not over till it’s over and until City need one more point but have played their last match I’ll keep my powder dry. Whatever happens it’s been a successful first season back in the league, we’re going to Wembley in two weeks and furthermore, there’s some more to come as it’s March not May.

Yesterday was always going to be difficult. Morecambe are no mugs and we don’t always excel against teams in their position. They don’t have many fans but that means nothing. Well supported teams don’t always win and poorly supported ones don’t always lose. If they did it wouldn’t be worth the bother. Winning a league or getting promoted isn’t plain sailing, that’s why following even a successful side is always interesting. John Beck said every team however good will have a poor spell. We’re good but not exceptional, we’re evolving. Thinking back to a couple of clubs who had money and were constructed rather than grown organically, Blackburn Rovers and Rushden and Diamonds where are they now? They had their day in the sun but are in the shade now. R & D aren’t even around as a league club and almost disappeared altogether.Their lovely stadium, which I always enjoyed visiting, is gone forever.

So, like you I’m disappointed but I’m not downhearted. Easter is to come, my favourite time of the year and that goes for football too. Two games in a short period of time that can make or break a season. It’s lighter in the evening and the flowers are coming out. What’s not to like?

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Lincoln City. Mes que un club? Is it becoming a reality?

I’ve written before in this blog of my admiration for Barcelona FC and whether, in our homespun way we could become a mini version of the Catalan giants. This weeks Cowley v Cowley evening leads me to believe we may be doing just that.

It’s early days of course but you’ve got to admit the clamour for tickets to games and indeed anything to do with Lincoln City at the moment has lasted the season and if anything increased as we approach the business end of our first term back in the league. Just looking at the sales for the Good Friday clash against Exeter, fast approaching eight thousand with a week to go, the astonishing numbers of tickets sold for Wembley and the sold out Grimsby game then you’d have to say there’s no sign of the enthusiasm waning.

Wembley of course has a special place in football fans hearts and it’s our first ever visit but when City first reached a national final, at Cardiff and with a very popular team managed by a legendary manager, the number of tickets sold was nowhere near what it is this time.

Barcelona represent a people. The Catalans, many of them, think of themselves as a separate nation. That may or may not be the case but the club has come to symbolise the struggle the Catalans have had for recognition. They were suppressed and denied by Franco. The name Real Madrid means Royal Madrid, the Kings team. Barcelona are everything they are not. There’s no comparison there with the Imps but it doesn’t take a huge leap of faith to draw some similarities. City for so long in the wilderness and I don’t think it’s being too rude about our lovely city to say it is only now coming through a renaissance from, for me, the dark days of the seventies when Lincoln was in decline. Even the Brayford was scheduled to be filled in to make a car park. Imagine that now!

Well, that’s enough of the daydreaming. You may agree or disagree with me that Lincoln City is becoming more than just a football club for its supporters. I think it is but the acid test is when City are having an average season and not pulling up any trees. Will the stadium still be full? Will the new stadium contain even more Imps? I just wonder if that could happen. I certainly don’t think our adventure is running out of steam yet.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

City win the derby, it’s just a matter of routine.

I was accompanied to the game by the good lady, the younger element of our entourage having decamped to the slopes on a stag do. If they’d known, the slopes could have come to them and they’d have seen the derby.

It didn’t seem all that good an idea as we set off in the teeth of yet another blizzard but in the event pretty much everyone who'd paid to go, it was the hottest ticket in town after all, turned up for the game. To their credit so did Mariners supporters. We were congratulating ourselves on making it across the city-they travelled across the county. After the season they’ve had that was a good showing.

On to the stadium and there was another marvellous montage display this time on three sides thus emboldening our heroes and to the dismay of our opponents. Whether this did have any effect we don’t know but in the event it was a routine win against one of the worst Grimsby sides we’ve seen and probably the worst side we’ve played at home this season.

For me the game hinged on two periods. Firstly after probably edging the first part of the match Town imploded spectacularly in under ten minutes and found themselves three-nil down. For some reason best known to himself Elliott Whitehouse handled in the box to give Mariners a lifeline and give a bit of respectability to the score. If it had gone to 3-2 it would have been a grandstand finish but on reflection that never looked likely.

Secondly, as Grimsby attempted to rescue something from the game they shuffled the pack bringing on new signing Gary McSheffrey to no discernable effect. City brought on Ollie Palmer and Harry Anderson and how they then failed to add to their score I really don’t know.

Palmer does not seem to enjoy a good reputation with supporters of teams he’s played for. I don’t think that’s going to be the case at Lincoln. After a shaky start he now comes on to hear his name being chanted and fans seem to be warming to him. He doesn’t like the expression super sub and his performances really should lead to a start but he’s sub and he’s certainly super in my view He’s got good feet and he reminds me a bit of Keith Alexander in that for a tall man his control is very good. Those two, as the players were tiring a bit injected pace and resolve making for a relatively relaxed finish. I’d have liked to have seen City really go for it late on but I suppose you can understand the reluctance.

I really hope Grimsby don’t get relegated but it’s quite clear there’s a mammoth task for Michael Jolley. Support in those numbers doesn't deserve that fate but the substitutions underlined the paucity of talent available to him. Barnet and Chesterfield are awful which is about all he’s got to go on but I don’t want to see Spirites down either.

There’s a club much more deserving of that fate in my view. With supporters barely willing to leave their Aga's to go to games and losing money faster than a punter on Skegness pier I’m sure you can work out who it is.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Derby day clash means whatever you want.

We’re promised a last blast of winter before hopefully brighter times are to come. It’s been a long hard winter but the football has not failed to uplift in my view. Whatever happens from now to the end of the season it’s been a successful first season back in the league.

Now, on the eve of the latest of three local games and arguably the biggest the derby is vital for both teams and for different reasons. For Grimsby the need for points and fast. I’ve noticed a certain envy coming down the A46 at the season we’ve had. Mariners fans question why they didn’t enjoy the bounce we’ve enjoyed from promotion. I don’t know and I’m not bothered. For my money getting in the playoffs is the be all and end all. Bragging rights over Grimsby means little.

For the Imps this game is no different from any other. We need to get as many points as we can to get in the playoff places, simple as that, doesn’t matter whether it’s home or away local or distant. Points is the name of the game.

Having said that we’ve been decent against local sides. I didn’t enjoy the sight of a certain portly Scotsman pounding up the touchline at Sincil Bank and I don’t particularly want to hear the taunts of my neighbours tomorrow and I don’t think I will. The last home game however was a reminder that not everything goes to plan. As a spectacle it should be right on the money although derby games are not known for flowing football. There again to listen to some people you’d think we were strangers to that in any event.

So there we are, set your alarms for an early kick off. Do your voice warm up and strap yourself in. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Imps on the up again.

We went to a bar called the Pessimist in Lincoln last night. Normally I’d describe myself as the opposite but as I settled down to listen to yesterdays game on the radio I was certainly of the opinion that were City to lose then it would be a question of what might have been and to look forward to a more determined push next season. With the new training facility presumably open and the finances looking in good shape after the Checkatrade success and really good attendances all season, every reason to suppose the Imps could be up there at the business end of the league.

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks following the debacle that was the last home game against Crewe. I think we’re all a bit shell shocked after that. Personally I don’t think the postponement of the Coventry game did us any harm except of course that so many Imps were looking forward to the trip. I just couldn’t see any joy for us points wise from that game. Maybe when we do play them we’ll be in a bit better form.

Looking back on the Mansfield result, that’s a decent point in anybody’s book and it was vital that City came away from Chesterfield with three points if the play off quest was to remain a reality. Once again the fates seemed to be against us as the game was delayed to allow the air ambulance to land on the pitch in a major medical emergency, we all hope that will end well, and it certainly did for the Imps as they recovered from going a goal down to roar back into the play off race and restore their play off credentials courtesy once again of Ollie Palmer. I can’t see why this player has to shrug off the doubts of some fans again and again as Matt Green had to before him. True he’s not the first choice striker thanks mainly to Matt Rhead’s rich vein of form. He’s been written off too and continues to confound his critics of which I’m not one. I think we’ve got a first rate strike force and I enjoy watching all of them.

City's dominance on set pieces laid the foundations for the win. Chesterfield are another team who think they're playing the game the right way and by the same token presumably, City not. I don't want to see Spirites drop out of the league but it's looking likely. They're not the only ones seeking the moral high ground whilst at the same time failing to deliver the points.

So, City emerge from an intense phase in the campaign relatively unscathed and we all look forward to the visit of Grimsby Town. After two local derbies we anticipate the visit of the club we just have to beat. City enjoying a bit better form, Mariners not. How we’ve enjoyed their difficulties this season. We know they peer jealously down the A46 at the season we’ve had, the gates we’re getting. They see in us at the moment the club they’ve always thought themselves to be. Town, rabbits in the headlights, there for the taking.

If you believe that you’ll believe anything.