Sunday, 20 September 2020

Mansfield Hosiery Mills 1-4 Mickleover FC Reserves


Before we get into this week’s game day blog (and basically because plenty of people have asked me about it) i thought i would share my views about the big football stories in my life over the past week or so. You really are lucky buggers aren’t you?

On Tuesday night Lincoln routed Bradford City away by five goals to nil in the second round of the League Cup and therefore setting up a match with Liverpool at home in the third round. Now in ordinary times 1) We would have gone to Bradford and 2) we would have been buzzing about the prospect of playing the side that won the Premiership last season. Obviously these aren’t normal times and thus the game will be played behind closed doors and in the process killing much of the excitement from my point of view. It will of course be a great occasion for the Imps to host Liverpool and the news that the game will be live on Sky Sports has defiantly added a little charm to the occasion not to mention the chance to head to the pub for a few beers and shots of sambuca thrown in for good measure.

As for the chances of Lincoln getting a result? Well let’s be honest, even with the Imps great start to the season (five wins from five in all competitions) it’s hard to see a Lincoln win. It’s not impossible, but it’s very, very unlikely. Given that Liverpool play Chelsea this weekend and Felice’s Arsenal next weekend i would doubt we will see Liverpool’s first choice starting eleven in action. But even a 3rd string Liverpool side would be packed with quality, to get onto the books at whatever level at any Premiership club you have to be hugely talented let alone the Champions of England and one of the biggest clubs in Europe. The only thing that gives me hope is that last season Liverpool played at Shrewsbury in the FA Cup and drew. (Before winning the reply at Anfield) With no relays and extra time in the League Cup should the game be a draw at 90 minutes then the game goes straight to penalties. And as we all know penalties is a total lottery, I mean it’s still very unlikely and up there with the chances of me going on a date next weekend but it could happen in theory...

Me at Anfield in 2011. A couple of stone lighter and with hair

Meanwhile it was another a fun week in the Europa League. The Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar bowed out of the competition losing 0-5 at home to Glasgow Rangers. For much of the game Lincoln performed well only running out of steam in the last 15 minutes or so.  I obtained a programme from the game to add to my random collection and i must say it was a fine issue that befitted the match. Elsewhere there was good news for Felice as he had a few teams playing and winning in it. Wins for AC Milan, Spurs, Wolfsburg, Aberdeen and Standard Liege among others put a smile on his face.

So onto this weekend’s game originally we had intended watch Retford United away at Clay Cross to tick off another new ground. However it was announced late on Friday night that the game was called off due to “Unforeseen circumstances” Baz had written this in our Whats App group chat but due to my large intake of alcohol Friday i didn’t read this message till a late night toilet visit in the early hours of Saturday morning.

As with most cat owners i was up early on Saturday morning and gave Felice a ring to sort out an alternative game to take it. After a quick look i suggested ticking off Mansfield Hosiery Mills FC who were at home to Mickleover FC Reserves.

The White Lion again was the first stop of the day for myself along with a couple of very good friends whose company has been a huge help to my mental health this weekend, and this time the medium full English was consumed. This consists of two eggs, two hash browns, two sausages, two bacon, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast all for the price of £5.50. They do a larger one to which consists of three of every item for the fat bastards among us for only a quid more. They open at 10 AM in the morning and the fact that we were stood outside waiting for the pub to open tells you all you need to know about us..

Now i have to be honest and admit i kind of messed up picking this game. I am always one for saying a little research goes a long way and i really should have done some in this instance. Our aim this season is to tick off new grounds while the Imps crowds are restricted. I knew we had never been to a Mansfield Hosiery home game so immediately suggested them. As we set off on our merry way it dawned on us that the club play at Sutton Towns old ground which we had both visited in the past (in my case about 12 years ago) at least this proved than even the very best of us make mistakes. We have now decided to draw up a “Hit list” of new grounds so if we need to find a new ground at short notice we will not be flapping about to think of one.

We made it through Mansfield and Sutton in Ashfield (AKA the land of a thousand traffic lights) in good time and pulled up in the car part with the best part of an hour to kill. There is a large clubhouse at the ground divided into two parts. After signing in for the track and trace we were directed into function room half of the building. It was all very well organised and seems to work very well. After a well deserved pint we headed into the ground.

Outside the ground there are plenty of Mansfield Hosiery signs and areas painted with the club colours of blue and white but you can still see signs that Sutton Town once played here. The entrance was the standard step 7 £3 with more track and trace antics on the gate. The ground looks pretty much the same as the last time i visited apart from the odd splash of paint here and there. The first thing walking around the ground is how it slops from one end of the ground to the other. The pitch was looked very good and all in all it looked like a decent set up.  

Both of these sides had won their previous game but early on it became clear who was going to win this game. When you watch reserve teams you normally see one of two things. Either they are full of players annoyed that they aren’t in the first team and players who think the reserves are beneath them. Or they are full of young hungry players who are finding their way in the game and being primed to play at a higher level. This Mickleover side most defiantly fell into the second category. They looked to play out from the back wherever possible and stuck to their philosophy at all times. They were ahead after only a couple of minutes’ due to a well worked goal.  They did have the advantage of kicking down the slope but some of their football was a joy to watch. Their coach was very supportive of his side not getting on the officials backs and encouraging his side even when moves broke down or mistakes were made.

After about 6 minutes the game was effectively over due to the most controversial moment of the game. Mickleover sent in a deep cross in to the Mansfield box and with no attacking players near the keeper he took what looked like a standard catch. The linesman however adjudged that the keeper had taken the ball over the line and thus gave a goal. We were stood right down the other end of the ground so we had no way of knowing if it was over the line or not. The home players protested strongly which gave me the impression that it didn’t go over but i am not the ref. I think the only person that will really know is the home team goalkeeper

The rest of the first half followed a similar pattern, attack versus defense. Although the home side didn’t see much of the ball they worked very hard to keep their shape and never gave up. The visitors added a third but thanks to some good goal keeping and poor finishing the halftime score finished up 3-0 in favor of Mickleover.  

Halftime signaled a retreat back to the bar for another pint/ half a coke depending if you were driving or now. The Imps were leading at halftime so all was well with the world.

The second half was more of a contest. Maybe it was because Mansfield were kicking down the slope or maybe it was because Mickleover had the game wrapped up. The visitors added a fourth when a long range effort left the keeper flat footed with Mansfield getting on the score sheet midway through the second half thanks to a well taken penalty. The real star of the show was the number 7 for Mickleover nicked named “Scholsey” due to his resemblance to Paul Scholes who ran the game in the centre of the park.

All in all another good day. We may not have seen the game we had planned or a new ground but we visited a ground we haven’t been to in a decade, found a good club house, saw a really good footballing side and the Imps have a 100% record in all competitions this season.  

As the saying goes.. We go again!

Other scores of note.

MK Dons 1-2 Lincoln City

 Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United

Dynamo Berlin 6-2 Bischofswerdaer 


Monday, 14 September 2020

Thorne Colliery 1-2 Retford United

The back end of last week was tough, as has my life since suffering a text message dumping during lockdown  in May (But that’s a story for another day) thankfully i have some awesome friends in my life to drag my sorry ass along when required.

In a non COVID world i would have been roughly 4000 miles away in the USA for a long overdue holiday to Pittsburgh,and on Saturday instead of taking in a local CML North game i would have been at PNC Park in Pittsburgh to see the Pittsburgh Pirates (The worse team in baseball no less).take on the Kansas City Royals. Even though i knew back in April the chances of getting to the US were a big fat zero, what could have been has been on my mind all week.

Up until the Thursday we had intended to follow the FA Cup to watch West Bridgeford v Lincoln United. However United have had an outbreak of the “Rona” and thus had to withdraw from the competition. Thankfully there is always another option so we chose to tick off another new ground and take in the match between Thorne Colliery v Retford United. The opening game of the Central Midland League season (Step 7 of the non league game)

Saturday morning was very much a case of “The morning after the night” before kind of morning having partaken in drinking a few beers on Friday. Thankfully i live next to the White Lion a, cracking pub that has recently started doing cooked breakfasts on a Saturday morning. I didn’t go for the full Monty though and settled for a sausage sandwich and a cup of tea for £2.50 and it was the best £2.50 i have spent for a while.

After reading the paper, another couple of cups of tea and an hour on the dart board it was time to head off to be picked up for today’s adventure. Felice was driving this week and he was on fine form when he picked me up. His Arsenal were leading 1-0 at Fulham and after winning the FA Cup last year his hopes are high for the Gunners this season. He will even renew his membership next year if fans are allowed in. As it was quite warm there was no sign of his Arsenal jacket but i would imagine it’s a bit snug nowadays anyway. It was good to see that Baz had survived a late fitness test to make the game after his arse had been on fire the previous night much of which was spent on the toilet apparently.  

The journey over to the far side of Doncaster was largely uneventful with the time being filled up listening to the build up to the Lincoln v Oxford game on BBC Radio Lincolnshire. It may have been the start of the EFL season but i just can’t get overly excited about it all till fans are allowed back into the stadiums in some numbers.

Thorne's ground is in a leisure area of the town. Next to the football ground is a cricket pitch, and just around the corner is a rugby ground with a small children’s play area thrown in for good measure. The turnstiles went open when we arrived and the players of both sides were warming up on the cricket pitch. As always the Retford fans were out in good numbers and looking forward to the game. Thorne's ground is dominated by one large old school style stand with standing around the rest of the ground. There is quite a lot of room to expand should the club ever need to. The ground was very clean and tidy and you can tell that it is well looked after. The turnstiles opened up about 2.30 ish with entrance being the standard £3.00. The standard COVID procedures were all in place and well managed by the club officials. As soon as we entered the ground my two cohorts heading straight to the food cabin and were soon scoffing away. The prices were reasonable and by all accounts the food was very nice, with me watching my figure i just had a cuppa.

I am not going to claim to be an expert on the CML North or even have a semi decent amount of knowledge on it. But i do know a half decent side when i see one and overall i think we saw two sides today that will be much nearer the top of the table than the bottom come May. I felt Retford had more of the ball in the first half but never really looked like doing much with it in the final third. A few minutes’ before the break the Badgers did have what looked a decent shout for a penalty but the ref was unimpressed.  

It was good to grab a word with legendary Retford DJ and blog fan Ian Beach at halftime along with the old warhorse Dave Wathell who wasn’t overly impressed at what he had witnessed in the first half. It takes a very special team to impress Dave. He judges all sides against the Spurs side that won the double back in 1961. He did most of the home games that season.

Just a couple of minutes’ into the second half the home side took the lead when a Retford defender turned a cross into his own net at the near post. It’s hard to blame the defender in all honesty. He had to go for it with a striker bearing down on him. To be honest i would rather praise the quality of the ball in as appose to blaming the defender. In hindsight this kick up the arse did Retford a real favor as they took control of the match and starting to look a lot better thanks mainly to some excellent wing play. They got the equalizer on 83 when Mark West was fouled in the box. West then picked himself up to dispatch the penalty giving the keeper no chance.

On 87 minutes Retford grabbed the winner! A shot from distance was only split by the Thorne Keeper and allowing skipper Tom Brook to slot home the winner. The spill brought back memories of watching Felice commit goof after  goof in his old 5 a side days and getting a lot of stick from his teammates in the bar after while drinking his pint of Shandy Bass. Ah the late 90,s. What fun they were.

Overall i have to say it was a good day out. A decent old school ground that had a real charm about it and two teams that looked to play football. If you haven’t ticked this ground off i highly recommend you do.

Other scores of note.

Lincoln City 2-0 Oxford

Fulham 0-3 Arsenal

Newcastle 2-0 West Ham

Kansas City Royals 4-3 Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)



Monday, 7 September 2020

The FA Cup Returns!


Newark FC 4-0 Deeping Rangers 

Firstly a big thank you to everybody who read last week’s blog. Needless to say i was pretty chuffed with the views and kind comments that it received. Let’s hope that the content and views continue throughout the season ahead. I must also add my general mood and state of mind has improved slight knowing i now at least have football to look forward to once or twice a week and that i get to share the journey with you all.  

Over the weekend results were mixed. Lincoln lost their friendly away at Oldham but there was a first win of the season for Dynamo Berlin thanks to a 3-1 away win at Berliner AK07. One game to look out for is the Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar being drawn against the mighty Glasgow Rangers FC in the Europa League second qualifying round.  Lincoln have come through two qualifying rounds to get here but the run will surly come to an end at this stage. In the other ties there is plenty of interest for Felice who has links to about 40% of the teams in it including Spurs and AC Milan.

Football fixture lists have been thrown upside down by the whole Corona virus pandemic and as such the FA Cup is starting before the various leagues kick off, needs must and all that though. Our FA Cup journey was to start at The Lowfields, home of Newark Town for their extra preliminary round match with Deeping Rangers.  A Brucie Bonus of doing the match was that this was my first new ground i have been able to tick off since Sunderland away back in January.

Last season Newark Flowserve (The Company that’s grounds the club plays in) became Newark FC and they look like a club on the rise and one  that has received a decent amount of investment. I had seen them in their former guise on a Central Midland League ground hop back in 2008 ish but i think this club is light years ahead of its predecessor. Newark is decent sized town and could easily host a step 3 club given the catchment area around it and last season the club did have several plus 400 attendances.

Newark were just too strong for Deeping Rangers on the night running out easy 4-0 winners. The homes fans really got behind the side with a group in the covered stand along the touchline making a real racket with the drum. The club reminds me of a mix between Retford United cira 2001-04 and Shaw Lane Aquaforce. I really hope the momentum can be maintained as there is defiantly a fan base in the town that could keep the club sustainable. I guess it’s a case of wait and see. But so far it’s a cautious welcome from me to the local Nottinghamshire non –league scene.  I must mention that Baz found the burger delicious and i was more than happy to pick up my first programme of the season.

Wombwell Town 1-4 Retford United.

You wait nine months to visit a new ground then you do two in five names. This time we headed to Barnsley to watch County league Wombell Town lock horns with Retford United of the Central Midlands League North.

I was a tad rough after a heavy night of drinking ale and sambuca shots in the White Lion but made it to the pickup point in good time ready to navigate our merry way to the ground. After bottling the sambuca Felice was driving and we made it in good time. The ground is a real old school effort and one that i rather liked.

At one time it appears that there was a running track around the pitch. At the bottom end of the ground there is a Go-Kart track and plenty of tyre walls can be seen. I have to say that this was one of the most welcoming clubs i have visited for a while. The chap organizing the car park, the old boys recording the track and track details, the lady making the tea, everybody was first class and it made for a great day out. There wasn’t a fixed entry charge but we all chucked a few quid in the donation bucket as i am sure most of the travelling support form Retford did. Retford United have had their knockers in recent years but you can’t fault the diehard band of fans they take to away games week in week out. It was especially good to catch up with Dave Wathall. He may be knocking on in years these days but his commitment to cause is as strong as ever.

Retford play their football at a higher level than their hosts and it showed as they dominated much of the game. The visitors ran out 4-1 winners but squandered many chances including a missed penalty. Credit must go to the hosts to however as they never gave up and i was glad they got a goal back late one. If you are busying planning which clubs to visit i thoroughly recommend Wombell Town! 

Elsewhere here are a few scores that caught the eye.

Crewe 1-2 Lincoln (League Cup

Iceland 0-1 England (Nations league)

Italy 1-1 Bosnia (Nations league)

FSV Lukenwalde 2-5 Dynamo Berlin


Sunday, 30 August 2020

The season is underway!!

For me the 2020/21 season finally got up and running this week as myself and my sidekicks were finally able to take in some live football action. The fact that non league clubs are finally allowed to let supporters attend is a huge boast to both clubs and fans alike as i am sure plenty of clubs would start fearing for their future had games been behind closed doors for much longer.

Our season opener was a short drive into South Yorkshire to the picturesque village of Maltby to see Maltby Main FC  square off against Retford United. Incidentally when ex number one left me a couple of years ago after 17 years together she moved to this quaint little village with two cats that we had rescued , Onyx and Sapphire. I do hope the cats are ok as i do miss them so. 

For us midweek games and pre game fine dining go together like Juventus and spectacular Champions League failures. The first Kebabs of the season were served up by the Charcoal Grill Kebab shop just around the corner from the ground. I played it safe and opted for the large Lamb donner at £6.30. It was tasty enough but could have done with being a tad larger, or maybe i am just a fat bastard. Either way it met with our seal of approval and is recommended. A solid start on the food front this season.

There has been much speculation as to how clubs will cope with the new COVID regulations and how different watching football would be. After watching two games this week it looks like things won’t be too different. Upon entry we signed in (i helped Felice spell his name) and leave phone numbers for track and trace, after this you sanitize you hands and off you go. All pretty simple really. 

Maltby play their football two leagues higher than Retford United but you wouldn’t know that from this match as the Badgers gave as good as they got. Sometimes in these kind of games teams can look a little disjoined but both sides really went for it in this encounter. Maltby looking smart in there red and black home shirts with Retford rocking a kit that looks remarkably one a certain Nottinghamshire based underachieving/ Also ran’s League Two side would wear at home.

As with all friendly matches the result wasn’t of the highest importance and its more about getting the players match fit and using different formations etc. The game finished 3-3 and featured some high quality goals with Redford’s 1st probably the pick of the bunch. All in all a decent start to the season and the 7.30 PM kick off allowed us to be back at a decent time. Let’s have more 7.30 kick offs in local football please.

On Saturday we were meant to travel to Clay Cross to tick of a new ground. However mother natural had other ideas as overnight rain caused the game to be cancelled .Felice consulted Twitter and it was quickly decided that Kimberley Miner Welfare was to be our destination. 

The 2pm kick off meant for a 12.30 departure time and a steady journey down to Nottingham for the game. Driving through Kimberley the place looked a nice little place with plenty of pubs that looked welcoming and plenty of people going about, a completely different experience from Tuesday night. The entrance to the clubs “Stag Ground” can be found just before the Stag Inn pub on the left, it’s a real blink and you will miss it though so thank the lord for sat navs as without one i am sure we would have been travelling around aimlessly looking for it.

We made our way to the gate and parted with our £3 and signed in. It looked like the club had really got the COVID procedure sorted so hat tip to them. And a second hat tip to Felice for spelling his name correctly. Once inside the ground hot and cold drinks were available but sadly the clubhouse was closed. With over half an hour to go till kick off we made the decision to head next door to the Stag Inn pub for a pre game pint. It turned out to be a cracking decision as the pub is a belter, a proper old fashioned boozer with a fantastic beer garden and friendly barmaids. From the beer garden you get a decent view of the ground and what was evident was the amount of work that had gone into the pitch as it looked a cracker. I had visited the ground over ten years ago and it looks like little has changed, the ground is fully railed off with the only covering being behind the far goal next to the entrance point and clubhouse. There doesn’t appear to be much room for expansion but i wouldn’t think that would be necessary as the ground seems to meet the clubs needs. The club has been busy adding new dugouts over the closed season and with the work that has gone on with pitch it’s obvious they have used the enforced break well. 

Today’s visitors were Wednesfield Football Club who ply their trade in the West Midlands Premier Division, a league i know absolutely nothing about or ever seen a game in. After a quick Google search it appears that this league is at step 6 of the non league pyramid, the same level as Kimberley who still play in the EMCL. So in theory a close game was in store and that’s exactly what we got.

I am afraid i can’t really dress this up but this game was a tough watch. Both sides really cancelled each other out with very little goal mouth action to speak of sadly. 

ak of. And whenever decent football was in danger of breaking out the referee out a stop to it with some over the top whistling. The only real high-point of the first half came in when the visiting keeper shanked a goal kick at about 30 degrees out of play when under no pressure whatsoever. It was a relief when the halftime whistle went allowing us to retreat back to the pub. 

We missed the first five minutes or so of the second half but it hardly mattered as it followed a similar pattern to the first i.e. very poor. As the game dragged on it looked odds on that we would see our first 0-0 of the season but thankfully a couple of minutes before the end Kimberley were awarded a penalty that they duly converted. Only a fool would make a cast iron prediction on a pre-season game but on this showing i wouldn’t imagine that either will be challenging for honours this time around. However it’s all about getting minutes’ in players legs etc and while there was little quality plenty of effort was on display from all involved. Good luck to both clubs for the upcoming season and all that.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Back again!

Well here we are again, another season when i will attempt to keep this blog up to date.

I do however have reasons to be optimistic that I will make a better fist of it this time around. Firstly i produce very little content either written or vocal these days so I have more than enough time.

The second reason is far more serious. As anybody and their dog knows the world has become a much scarier place in the last six months or so and I alongside millions of others have seen their mental health plummet to new depths due to the Corona virus. Added to that fact i received a Text message dumping so for the second time in 3 years i am single and fancy-free. It’s not a situation that i am happy with and in truth i am a little scared about being alone for the rest of my life but if 2020 has proved anything to us it’s that we never know what’s around the corner.

I must add that i don’t want to make this blog just about football/ sports. I intend to use it to act as a diary of my way back to a place where i want to be mentally and physically to thank the people who have helped me to pull through and to open up about the people who in various ways have done all they can to pull me down and. I am looking forward to writing about things other than sport and i know that will in the long term put me in a better place.

But don’t worry 90% of it will still be football/kebab/ collectibles/piss taking, and who knows there may well be a sprinkling of darts and Warhammer painting thrown in for good measure.

I should be attending my first football match of the 20/21 season at some point this midweek so look out for it over next weekend.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Lincoln 2-0 Accrington

It’s been 21 long years since the Imps last played in the third tier of English football and it’s fair to say my life and that of the Caterday club founder members has changed quite a bit since then.  Lincoln opened up the 1998/99 season with a long trip to Bournemouth and thus we made a weekend of it. It was the first game i ever did with Baz and Felice and thus the start of two fantastic friendships that have seen us travel all over the country (and northern Germany) watching the Imps. Time flies as they say.

When we went to Bournemouth we had no plan. No digs booked (in peak holiday season in August) no real idea of where the ground was or even the best way to get there. All we had was a change of clothes for the night out and something to wear the next day. No phones or sat
 navs no research into the area, nothing. In the end we found some digs (after asking at about 40 B&B, s)  After we checked in we had a belly load of beer at various pubs along the beach  then back to hotel to freshen up then back out on the piss and ending up in the Opera House nightclub. On the pitch Lincoln were soundly beaten 2-0 and were eventually relegated.

Fast forward to today and there was to be no all day drinking/any drinking on the Friday and certainly no night clubbing by any of us. One thing that has withstood the test of time over the past 21years has been Felice’s inability to organise himself. The plan at 9.30 was to catch the 11.10 train to Lincoln however no sooner had i purchased my ticket the call came through saying he would be getting the later train.

Pre-game was spent in our favourite “Up hill” Lincoln pub the William Foster watching the Ashes. Until some fool switched the TV over to watch Salford v Stevenage which was  met with a round of boos and the cricket put on the smaller screen, not great but we could at least see England’s tail wag to get a 90 run lead in the first innings. The pub much like much of the city centre was full of Imps shirts and there seemed a genuine buzz around the city. The opening of a new Imps shop in the centre has been a welcome addition and both times i have been in it has been quite busy and with a great range of merchandise in stock it’s not hard to understand why. I genuinely think it’s the best we have had since i have been going to the Bank and long may it continue.

After a quick stop at the chippy it was off the ground to see the Imps take on Accrington. Although as a fan i normally prefer to be away on the opening day of the season i felt in this case started out in a new league it was important to be at home on the first day and thus get a better chance of the Imps getting three points. There are no easy games (cliché ahoy) in this league but a home game against probably the smallest club in the league is as good a fixture as you can hope for.
One curious thing in the build up to the game was what the crowd was going to be. For this game all of the Stacey West was available to the home fans with Accrington being placed in the bike shed stands at the other end of the ground. As kick off approached it became apparent that there was going to be quite a few empty seats in the Stacey West. In the end the crowd was 8,668 which is very respectable and the 3rd highest in League One on the day. Now you will never find me moaning about “Only” getting 8668 through the gate but after three years of crowds growing it does make you wonder if as a club we have reached our limit. Obviously when the bigger clubs come to town and take all the Stacey West then tickets for the home sections will be much harder to obtain and sell outs will occur. Home ticket sales v smaller/less well supported clubs are defiantly something to keep an eye on as the club still wrestles with plans of moving to a new stadium or re-developing Sincil Bank for the long term.

Accrington are always held up as a prime example of what a club can do with a canny management team even if they have a low budget. John Coleman was even described in the programme as “The Alex Ferguson” on lower league football. That may be pushing it slightly but there is no denying the bloke has done a first class job at Accrington. They always give you a hard game especially at home. However that being said it was a game that on paper Lincoln were favourites to win. (in my eyes anyway)

The surprising team news was that last year’s top scorer John Akindie was on the bench. This was huge news and signaled a change in approach for the Imps. Last season Akindie was the first name on the team-sheet teams knew what they were in for and this change of tact seemed to surprise Accrington as they struggled to contain the Imps slick passing game plan.
As ever i never go into in-depth match reports on here, there are plenty of other places for that. This blog merely serves to give my overall views on the game. The Imps new signings of Morrel, Payne and Walker all impressed as did the whole Imps side. The first goals for the Imps game courtesy of a header from Micheal o’Conner on 35 minutes. The Imps never really looked in trouble at the other end but as we all know football has a wonderful way of kicking you up the arse when you least expect it and given how dominate Lincoln had been in the first half i did wonder if the Imps would pay for all the missed chances.
However i needn’t have worried as the second half followed the same pattern as the first. The Imps wrapped up the points on 82 when Akindie slotted home a trademark penalty to wrap up the points.
First day results can often bare little relevance to how the rest of the season is going to pan out but the signs today were positive. For me the big take away was the fact that the Imps now look to have two systems that can be used making them much less predictable. For much of the game City were very open and while that is pleasant to see at home i would think they will revert to a much more conservative style away from Sincil Bank.

So all in all a great start to the season with the Imps gaining three well deserved and impressive points. Good beer, nice pre game chips and a good performance. If only all games were as pleasant as this.

Monday, 8 July 2019

The Festival of Lincolnshire Football.

After a quiet summer waiting for news on friendly games to be arranged,the fixture list to come out and planning for the new season football was finally back and the first Imps game of 2019/20 was the festival of Lincolnshire football in Gainsborough. Actually i lie because it was actually two games as the festival featured the hosts Gainsborough, The Imps and Lincoln United.

There is something special about pre-season games, the sun is normally out, optimism fills the air, results don’t matter and there is normally a real buzz about going to these games. Plus you get to see fellow supporters/ goons you have missed over the long closed season months. Another reason i enjoy pre-season games especially in the early weeks if that it gives you the chance to go to grounds and catch up with clubs that you don’t normally get the chance to visit. A few years ago i use to get around many of the local non league clubs quite often throughout the season but a combination of purchasing an Imps season ticket three years ago and funds being needed for more important things in life means that forays into the non league game are few and far between.
Gainsborough is a town steeped in history that many people in the local area don’t really appreciate. As there is so much history to explore i suggested getting to the town early to try and find some of the historical sites of importance. Alas my ideas fell on deaf ears. Gainsborough gets its name after the tribe that made the first settlement here back in Anglo Saxon times, the Gaini. Gainsborough literally means stronghold of the Gaini.

The format of the day’s event was quite simple. The three teams would play each other once and the games would be 60 minutes long with 10 minutes for halftime. Two points were to be awarded for a win and one for a draw. I know some people wouldn’t count these are proper games given that they are shorter than normal but i am. Admission was a very reasonable £10 for adults in advance and rising to 12 if paying on the day. Baz, Emma Lou and i had used our loaf and ordered in advance but loads of money Felice opted to pay on the day. You always get one don’t you? Incidentally £12 is what Trinity charged last season in the 7th tier of English football. That seems a couple of quid too much to me but what do i know? I suppose funds were needed to support the promotion push that followed relegation the previous season, the promotion push never really got going though which is a real shame as Trinity really should be higher up the pyramid.

We arrived in Gainsborough just after 12.30 and although the normal car park was reserved for “Players and media” we managed to bag a spot just around the corner and made our merry way into the stadium. The “Special souvenir” programme was on sale just inside the turnstiles for £2.50 and although it looked quite snazzy it has to be said it was poor value with not a huge amount of reading material other than pen pics of the squads and given the large number of trialists that all three sides were playing it made this a tad useless. However many clubs don’t issue programmes at all for friendly games so i suppose i should be thankful that a programme was issued at all.  

Lincoln City 4-1 Lincoln United.

First up was the Lincoln derby and from an Imps point of view it was quite hard to read anything into this. The Imps named 6 unnamed trialist’s in the line up in addition to Adebayo-Smith who recently signed his first pro deal for the club and is one of the most exciting young prospects at the club. Early pre season games like this are normally littered with trialists so it’s hard for us in the stands to work out how much chance any of these players have at getting a deal with Lincoln  You also have to consider that there is a 5 division gap between the two Lincoln teams so you would expect anybody trying to get a deal with a League one club to look competent against modest opposition. In the end the Imps won comfortably with Adebayo-Smith grabbing three of the goals and the fourth coming from “Trialist E” We had the pleasure of spending the first game in the stand with Felice as he told us all about his bird watching antics over the past few weeks and gave us the lowdown on the puffin scene in North Yorkshire, something he is hugely passionate about. He is almost as passionate about it as he was the burger that he stuffed down his face at a rate of knots.

Gainsborough Trinity 0-3 Lincoln City.

This line up was far more interesting to Imps fans as it contained players that were all contracted to the club. Much of the talk amongst Imps fans this week has been the signings of Jorge Grant and Jack Payne on full time deals along with Joe Morrell who arrived on a season long loan from Bristol City. All three started in this game.  
As with the previous game City were on the front foot from the start and never really looked in trouble. We watching this match from the Carlise Street terrace and we got a perfect view of city missing a penalty in the 8th minute as Harry Anderson was adjudged to have been fouled in the box. New boy Payne stepped up to take the sport kick but it was well saved by the Trinity keeper. The Imps didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal, Andersons shot was well saved by the keeper but the rebound fell to Ellis Chapman who finished from close range. On 25 it was 2-0 as Matt Rhead finished off a good move from about two yards out. City added the 3rd in the second half via another penalty with Jorge Grant stepping up this time to take the kick. It was a decent penalty and one that Felice missed as he snuck out of the ground at halftime. Shocking stuff i am sure you will all agree.

After the second game it was time to visit the world famous Blues club for a quick pint. The blues club like much of Gainsborough is a bit of a throwback to a bygone era but it does the trick. When we remerged it appeared that about 70% of the crowd had decided to call it a day due to the Imps have finished their two fixtures. This left Trinity and United to fight it out over second place. Trinity bossed the first period whilst United had much the better of the second. The result being a 1-1 draw thus lifting United into second place. I have to thank my good friend Rob for giving me a life back after the third game thus allowing me to be able to watch it as all my viewing companions for the first two games had left for various reasons. Rob is the leading light in the local football blogosphere so check out his version of events .here

So what were my overall views of the day? This was the first time that Trinity (to my knowledge) had hosted an event like this so with that in mind i think it went pretty well and something i could see being an annual event involving different Lincolnshire sides. Although it may have been disappointing to see so many city fans leave after the 1st two games they had all paid their ticket money so neither of the two non-league sides sharing the gate money would have lost out but you would imagine the bar and catering takings would have been better if the Imps were on last as was originally planned. The bar and catering ques were fairly swiftly moving so from that point of view Trinity should be applauded. From what i could see everybody seemed to have a great day and i am sure all three management teams got something from it as well. I for one hope to see more of these in the future years and with a couple of tweaks i am sure this could be one of the high points on the pre-season calendar. I could see City, Grimsby and Scunthopre taking it in turns being the league club and another non-league side joining Trinity. If you invited say Boston or Grantham who would both bring a decent number the event could really take off.
Food for thought as they say.  

Mansfield Hosiery Mills 1-4 Mickleover FC Reserves

  Before we get into this week’s game day blog (and basically because plenty of people have asked me about it) i thought i would share my vi...