I have always enjoyed pre-season games and the week or two that leads up to pre-season starting. After weeks and months of checking the Tony Kempseter Non league forum, Twitter and various blogs for interesting matches I now have a pretty good idea of which games I wish to take in before the real action starts on the 9th of August. However as with all things pre-season (and in life in general I suppose) things can and probably will change. I did have the novel idea of doing seven games in seven days but that was poo pooed by the rest of the Cat Crew. Disappointing news I am sure you will agree.
Retford FC V Hykeham Town July 3rd
A nice and local one to kick off the 2019/20 season. It’s always good to get a game in early and get back into the swing of it all.
Retford FC has been a real success story over the past couple of seasons and last season gained promotion to the NCEL Division One. Off the pitch the Rail ground has seen significant investment thus making it a great place to watch football. I have a soft spot for the club given that on the field at the back was where I clean bowled Felice many moons ago in what can only be described as one of the best balls ever seen in Retford cricket. Hykeham are new to the Lincs league this season so I know nothing about them apart from it will be a new ground to visit next season.
July 6th the festival of Lincolnshire football.
This is a novel idea and a date that I am very much looking forward to. It’s a three team tournament consisting of hosts Gainsborough Trinity, Lincoln United and the Imps. Each side will play the other in a match that will consist of two 30 minute halves with 10 minutes for halftime. First up Trinity take on United followed by the two Lincoln teams facing off, before the Imps play Trinity in the final match. Two points are awarded for a win and one for a draw. Should two sides be level on points then a penalty shoot out will decide the winners. The games will kick off at 1pm, 3pm and the bar will be open all day which is great news all round. Tickets are on sale in advance for a mere ten pounds which will rise by 2 quid on the day. Further more you can save even more by getting the family ticket (as I have)which allows two adults and two kids in for £20 thus saving you even more (chortle chortle). All these savings come in handy as the food at Gainsborough is always top notch and the beer is cheap in the Blues club.
I have a lot of time for both Gainsborough and Lincoln United so I hope a good number of Imps turn out to support the event. To that end I do hope that Mr Felice Del Colle does attend. His record at attending pre-season matches is on the poor side which is disappointing to say the least. One of his most famous no shows in pre-season was actually at Gainsborough a couple of years ago when he missed out on the Lincs cup tie between the Holy Blues and the Imps despite it being very close to where he lives and is often seen stuffing his face in the local KFC, playing Bingo and attending dance nights in the famous Blues Club. If his car has broke down (a favorite excuse in pre-season) the he will no doubt be delighted to learn that Gainsborough Central train station now receives an hourly service and is a mere 5 or so minute stroll from the Northholme meaning he can catch the 2.35pm service from Retford and make the Imps first game at 3pm. Gainsborough has a rich history so I very much encourage people to watch this three part documentary about the history of the town before the festival.
Ilkeston Town v Notts County. 13th of July.
Something a little different with this game but that’s what pre-season is all about. I often like to partake with a couple of beers with the upper management of Barlow Enterprises and the combination of beer, sun and football is one that is too good to turn down. This is the start of a new Journey for Notts County as they adjust to non-league football and I am intrigued as to how see the start of it. News of a proposed takeover has gone quiet in what is a nervous time for fans of the Magpies. I am sure they club will pull through but as we saw with the Imps it can take a while, but the good news is clubs like Leyton Orient completed the turnaround in just two seasons. Keep the faith as they say. Ilkeston have had troubles of their own over the past few years but won their league at a canter last season so it will be interesting to see them take the next step. The new Manor ground is a quality stadium with a large clubhouse. Let’s hope the bar is well stoked as Barlow drinking sessions are not for the faint hearted.
|Ilkeston v Lincoln back in 2011|
Lincoln United v Lincoln City 23rd of July.
Another cracking game here and one that is not to be missed. The Lincolnshire Cup has a very special place in the Imps history, for the reason the Imps exist was that it was felt by people in the city that Lincoln needed a side capable of winning the highly prized Lincolnshire cup and ending Grimsby’s domination of the competition. For this reason alone I have always tried to get to the Lincs cup games however my fellow Retford Imps goons seem less enthusiastic about it. A warm welcome is always revived at Ashby Avenue so it should be a great night. It may well be a “Lincoln City 11” take to the field as the Imps host Stoke City the following night at Sincil Bank. The winners of this tie will face either holders Cleethropes Town or Spadling United at home in the semi finals.
Retford United v Worksop Town. 31st July.
If you are about in the town of Retford on Tuesday the 31st of July then you have a choice of two games to attend. Firstly and the game I was going to attend when I saw it was Retford FC hosting Lincoln United, but seeing how I plan on being at the Rail the previous week to see the CML North champions play Harworth (I like to get about a bit in pre-season) I have opted to take in Retford United lock horns with neighbours Worksop Town.
It wasn’t too long ago that these two clubs were in the same division and for a while it looked like United could overtake Town as Bassetlaw’s highest ranked side. That seems like a world away now though after Worksop ran away with the NCEL Premier division title setting records left right and center while United had a disappointing season finishing 4th in the CML North. I am hoping there is a half decent crowd in for this and it will be good to see a few familiar faces.
Those are the games I would like to attend. However as i said previously some may fall by the wayside and others may be added. The Imps do host Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke City and Nottingham Forest but in all honestly the only one that really appeals is the Stoke game but as the Lincs Cup game is the day before that takes preference as it is a competitive game. The ones v Forest and Sheffield’s 2nd highest ranked side in the football pyramid should be well attended with both bringing a good following. The two games will tug on Baz’s heart strings as he is a former Owl and will be bringing his home made half and half scarf to the match. There has also be a long standing rumour that a picture of a young Baz exists wearing a Forest shirt posing with the European Cup from many moons ago but I haven’t see it so I won’t comment.
The newly formed/rebranded Lincoln City Women have a series of pre-season games planned too which are appealing and it would be nice to pop along to Elland Road should Leeds host an interesting overseas opponent as they often do. Yaxley FC also host an Imps youth side so that could be a goer but we will see.
Till next time Cat fans.