Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Mind of an Imps blog Lincoln city awards.

Yep its that time of year when i look back at the high and low points of the season gone by. The awards are spilt into three this year. The Lincoln City awards, The Non-league awards and the Gourmet food awards.
The Lincoln awards are first up.

Player of the season award.

When choosing a player of the year i think you have to look at the season as a whole. And for me the only players who could have been considered for the award are Scott Kerr, Rob Burch, and Cian Houghton. So it gives me pleasure to give this year's award to Cian Houghton.

For me he has been a class act this season and one of the few bright spots in a dreadful campaign. We took a chance on him; only giving him a six month contract and he grabbed his chance with both hands. For me he is at his best on the wing but he also did well at full back. Now if he can just get his dad to bring Newcastle down here for a pre season friendly.

Most disappointing player.

Khano Smith. Despite being described as an "MLS Star" and a Bermudan International, he spent most of his thankfully short spell at Lincoln on his arse. His "Performance" at Northwich in the FA cup live on ITV has probably killed his career in England.

Best Home performance.

This is a tough one. I missed three home games that we won and from all accounts we played really well in all three (Bradford,Chesterfield and Bournemouth) But as i didn't see them i cant include them. I will go for our 1-0 win over Aldershot in Chris Sutton's first game in charge.

Worst Home Performance

Plenty of choice here! Notts County, Burton, Shrewsbury, Torquay, Morecambe, and Port vale were all dreadful, but i will go for the 0-2 at Home to Burton.

Best away Performance

We have join winners here.
Lincoln, as most people know have a super crap record in the FA cup, and before this season hadn't made the 3rd round since 1999. So when we were drawn away in the 2nd round at Blue square north side Northwich Victoria (two leagues below the Imps) we all feared the worse.

The fact that the game was live on national TV and the fact that Northwich had dumped league one Charlton in round one just added to the pressure. We controlled the first half and kept them at arms length. When they scored we hit straight back and didn't buckle like i have seen City do so many times before in the FA cup. We went through got a decent tie away at Premiership Bolton and invested the prize money in the squad which helped us stay up.

The second winner goes to the away Lincolnshire derby at Grimsby.
The aim here was simple. Don't lose this game. We took an early lead, the cods hit two either side of the break to take the lead and suddenly our position in the table was looking very bleak.

We did hit back though, but after that the game could have gone either way. Both sides went for the three points. We had a goal chalked off for no reason and in the last minute of extra time Grimsby had what looked like a decent shout for a penalty turned down. Had we lost here then i really think Grimsby would have stayed up at our expense. We all saw the run they went on after they smashed us 5-1 the season before. This one was of the best Lincolnshire Derbys i have seen and must have been great to watch as a neutral. The point came at a cost though as Adam Watts broke his leg, so that was our best defender out for the season. Had he stayed fit he would have been a contender for the player of the year award.
The fish and chips pre match were very nice to. I will genuinely miss the derby match at Grimsby next year.

Worst away trip
Darlington. Freezing cold night, under 2000 in a 25,000 seater stadium poor performance away at the bottom of the table. At least we got a point in the last minute.

All smiles in the pub before the away game at Darlington, little did we foresee the crap we were about to watch unfold before our very eyes.

Most enjoyable away day.

Apart for the trip to FC Celle in pre season i have decided to go for Bradford City away. Nice stadium, Lincoln saved a penalty and then scored two goals in a minute, and for the most part played Bradford city of the park. It was back in August so it was also t-shirt weather which always adds to the feel good factor. This was to be Jackos last win in charge and it was probably one of his best.

Another factor which helped was we had a great kebab after the match. Below is the menu and if in the area i strongly recommend a visit. The Retford Imps will be dining here again next season!!!

Best new ground visited

Afc Telford

Worst new ground

Burton Albion- the game was crap aswell.

Move of the season.
Only two contenders really; in second place, our goal at home to Rochdale, but well out in front is the old boy who sold Baz a dummy down his left hand side to sneak in front of him in the car park away at AFC Telford.

This lead to the conversation of the season

Baz -Where the fuck you think your going old boy? Oh right your going there

Myself and Fleech - He's done you Baz, the old boy's done you!!!!!

Baz - Fuck off!

Trust me it was funny at the time.

Most helpful person found on our travels.

The bearded wonder of Derbyshire who helped us park up in the car park near Chesterfield fc. On closer inspection the chap didnt have a beard.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Closed season week two.

Well its week two of the closed season and its all go at Sincil Bank!
Three new signings, a player leaves and the draw for the semi final for the Lincs cup is made.
For me the most welcome bit of news was that the Rob Burch saga has finally come to an end. He was offered one of the best contracts Lincoln have ever offered a player a few months back but didn't seem too keen on staying. So after months of being messed around Chris Sutton has had enough and signed another keeper for the Imps.

Rob who?

Former England youth international keeper Joe Anyon has been signed on a two year contract following his release from Port Vale. He was Vale's player of the season in 2007/08 but broke his leg the next year and has struggled to get his place back. I have no idea if he is any good or not but we will soon find out.
We have also added to our midfield. Central Midfielder Josh O'Keefe has been signed after being released by Blackburn. He spent last season on loan at league one Walsall. At 6'3" he will add some height to the midfield and hopefully score us a few as that was one area (well one of many) that we were weak in last season.
Also signed on for the next season is Torquay United winger Mustapha Carayol. I didn't go to the away match at Torquay but from reading the reports he was a thorn in the side for the Imps all game so lets hope he can be as affective for the Imps. He has pace to burn apparently and pace was another thing we lacked last season.

Lincolnshire cup draw.

So a month or so after Grimsby's relegation we get paired with them in the Lincs cup. Well we knew we would be playing them as there are only three sides in the thing and the previous years winners get a bye to the final. The tie takes place on July the 31st with a 3pm kick off at Grimsby's Blundell park. Looks like a trip on the train, a few beers and fish and chips beside the seaside before the match. Scunthorpe United await the winners.

Grimsby Towns Blundell Park

Last up is the news that Lennel John-Lewis has left the club. I remember watching him make is debut as a sub away at Port Vale in the FA cup in the 2006/07 season and thinking we have a really good prospect on our hands here. In my view he has under achieved as i feel he could be a league two striker. Hopefully he will have the hunger to get a deal at a conference side, get a few goals and get his career back on track.

Prices for the two home friendlies are £10 for the Norwich City game and £15 for the Celtic XI match.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Friday football news

Just a couple of football stories of interest (well to me anyway)
It appears that my ability to jinx teams is alive and well. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds extended their winless start to the season to 6 matches last night with a 3-4 home defeat. Although it hasn't been a great start, they have had to play four from the six matches away from home and two of them were on consecutive days. Last minute goals have cost them in both home matches they have played. It is very much a Lincoln style start to the season. Only problem being the hounds season is only 20 games long where as Lincoln have 46 to try and wake up.

There are only six sides in the hound's league and they play the other sides four times so a few wins on the trot and you soon shoot up the league. Plus the run of home matches in the second half of the season will be a big help. I had my Hounds t-shirt in the pub beer garden last night so if you need a reason for last nights defeat then look no further!

Return of the general!

Great news boys and girls the man who masterminded Lincoln's last promotion the "General" John Beck is back in football as manager of Blue square premier (conference) side Histon. I am sure all followers of football will be really pleased at this news. Life as a Lincoln fan with John Beck was never dull. He dragged us from the bottom of league two and got us promoted with in two and a half seasons. There were so many high points. In the 96/97 season; beating Manchester city 5-1 over two legs in the Carling cup, drawing 2-2 away at Premiership Southampton in the third round before losing the replay 3-1, and scoring 4 in the first twenty minutes against Doncaster the season before, i really could go on and on. Some people dont like his style and tactics but like him or loath him you can't question his ability as a coach and what he has achieved.

If it falls right with Lincolns fixtures i will try to watch Histon at either Grimsby or Mansfield next season. Speaking of Mansfield, who can forget the home match with the stags in the 1995/96 season when he decided at half time that the pitch need the attention of a tractor on the field at half time. The only time i have ever seen this happen at a football match. The game that Gisbert Boss (remember him?) scored that goal!!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Closed season week one.

The first week of the closed season saw two players sign one year contracts and one leave. Club captain Scott Kerr and defender Paul Green both signed one year deals and for me they are worthy of them. While i am often critical of Kerr we do miss him when he,s not there. Midfielder Clark Keltie,striker Brian Gilmour and Keeper Rob Burch have been offered deals but are yet to sign.

One player who wont be at Sincil bank next season is Richard Butcher.(above) despite having a year left to run on his contract he and the Imps have decided to part company. Butcher never hit the highs of his first spell with the Imps and was never going to be a first teamer under Chris Sutton.
On the pre season game front the only match released so far is the home game with Norwich City on the 28th of July (7.30 ko) Although we are expected to play Celtic on Saturday the 24th of July. The sticking point seems to be what strength of side Celtic will send down.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Lincoln City 0-0 Maccelsfield Town

Thankfully its over!!!!
Well that's it. The 2009/10 season is over and not a moment to soon. Relief was the word around Sincil Bank this afternoon. For a long while it looked as if this game would be the one that would decide whether or not we stayed in League two. Thankfully our last home win spared us a final day shootout and another couple of weeks with no sleep. That pleasure went to Barnet and Grimsby Town. Today the results of those two sides were at the forefront of most Lincoln fans minds.

The weather was just like City's season. Dull, grey with just a ray of sunshine poking through. Just when you thought the sun would poke through a quick rain shower came along to piss on your chips, in pretty much the same way a 4-0 away defeat at Port Vale can do to you. All that was on the table for the Imps was a chance to finish 20th in the league. Macclesfield haven't done much better so a crap game was always on the cards.

First stop as ever, was the club bar for a swift pint. Macclesfield don't normally get great crowds, normally well below 2,000 at home, but they seemed to have a brought a few fans with them for todays match several of whom were milling around in the bar. Quite a few were wearing baseball caps with the message "Hats off to Keith" in respect for the late great Keith Alexander; the former manager of the Imps, who was the Macclesfield manager until his sudden death this year. He will never be forgotten. The 15-16 year old Macc fans in there were starting a few chants and stuff (all in good nature) maybe they should start some chants at their home matches as it is normally a very quiet place. On the big screen Nottingham Forest were getting stuffed by Blackpool in the first leg of the Championship playoffs.

Before the match the club did the normal end of season awards and there were no real surprises. Cian Houghton won young player of the season(chosen by the manager). Away player of the year, which is voted by the fans who go on the official coaches, went to Goalkeeper Rob Burch. The player of the season as voted by the fans went as follows
Joint second: Cian Houghton, Davide Somma
Winner: Rob Burch

Well done to all. It pretty much tells you all you need to know about our season when the Goalkeeper wins two of the awards and one of the players who got second in the player of the season award has been on loan with us for a couple of months. The match itself was as dull as most had expected it to be. It was basically two sides going through the motions after a long hard season battling against relegation

The only real moment of note was Davide Sommas sending off. He had been battling with Towns' Centre half Sean Hessey all game, with words being exchanged. Somma, with his great goal record since joining Lincoln, is becoming a bit of a target for limited defenders like Hessey. After yet another snide foul from the former Chester city player went unpunished, Somma took the law into his own hands (or head) and butted him in front of the ref. Obviously you can't get away with this, but the way Hessey went down (like he had been shot at by a battery of Gatling guns!) left a bad taste in the mouth. Its very rare for me to slate a player on this blog but hessey deserves it.

The Imps played better with ten men that they did with eleven but still couldn't force a goal. The loudest cheers came when each of Burton Albion's Goals went in against Grimsby Town thus condemning them to relegation and leaving us as the only Lincolnshire side in league two next year. Even if they won, it wouldn't have mattered due to Barnets 1-0 win over Rochdale.

After the game we had the traditional lap of honour as Chris Sutton lead the team around the ground although only about 50% of the crowd stayed to see it. On the one hand its pretty crap finishing 20th in league two but when you look at how bad it could have been then we should all be thankful Chris has kept us in the league.

I will be writing my thoughts on the season later after a few days reflection. Chris Sutton has had his doubters this year but he was brought in to save us from relegation and he has achived that.

I will leave you with this thought. Rob Burch and Cian Houghton who picked up the end of season awards were signed by.... Peter Jackson so before we all start blaming Jacko and saying it was his fault that we were in a relegation scrap, just step back and think. Also when Jacko was sacked we were 17th in the league after 5 games. 41games later we finish 20th. It goes deeper than Chris, Jacko and even the bloke who cooks the pies and burgers.
Speaking of food. Gillingham have been relegated to league two so that means a return to one of the best fish and chip shops i have ever been to before a football match.
Good times are ahead!!!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The world reacts to the biggest story in league two

After 99 years in the football league Grimsby Town fc have been today been relegated to the blue square premier league where they will cross swords with the likes of Crawley Town,Southport and Mansfield Town. I have had a quick look around and found out how the world has reacted to this news

I will leave you with these words from Amy Macdonald. I would imagine these words would have been ringing in the Grimsby fans ears as the final whistle went after there 3-0 defeat at Burton Albion

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Lincoln City Res 3-1 Bradford Res

Tuesday saw a first for me. It was the first time i had ever seen Lincoln City reserves play. A few things swayed my mind to watch this match. It was a nice day, I have plenty of rest days to take off at work. Season ticket holders get into reserve match's for free, and as the season draws to an end there is always a chance some trialists may turn out for the Imps who are maybe looking for a contract for next season. So i finished work at 11.00 when home,quick chance and wash grabbed a Sandwich in town and headed up to the station.

For reserve match's the club only opens the ST Andrews stand. For those who don't know the stand is known as "the library" by city fans due to the lack of noise and atmosphere generated on a match day. Its where the directors and staff of both clubs sit And has the most expensive seats in the stadium. I think i have seen about 4 games in all my time as a city fan in this stand but i must say that the view from the central section were i was sat today was fantastic.

For reserve games you enter via the executive club entrance and pay at the bar. I got in there at about 1.30 (2pm ko). There was a huge crowd of at least 6 in the bar. Team sheets were placed on a table on the corner. So i got a pint and read the programme for the Bournemouth game that we missed for the Scotland trip that i got in the club shop before i went in.

Lincoln had a young side out today. 1st team goalkeeping coach Paul Musselwhite captained the side. The only two other players with any first team experience of note this season were Shane Clarke and Lenell John-Lewis. Andy Hutchison who in the 2008/09 season became the Imps youngest ever goal scorer(against Bradford) started up front. Lincoln also gave a game to trialist Leon Hibbert from Corby town although he went of injured in the 37th minute.

It felt strange watching the game from a different stand. It also felt a tad weird being sat in a 10,000 seater ground with about 30 people watching. In the "crowd" was Bradford first team manager Peter Talyor, Former Imps manager Colin Murphy and ex City fullback Dean west.
City to my surprise played some decent football and had Bradford on the back foot for most of the first half. Nathan Adams gave Lincoln the lead after good work from James Reid on the left. It got worse for Bradford three minutes later when the Bradford keeper came out to punch an incoming ball on the edge of his area, got nowhere near in and allowed John-Lewis to head into the net. City more or less strolled the rest of the half to go in with a deserved 2-0 lead.

I grabbed another beer at half time. It seemed as if i was the only one drinking beer today,everybody else going for the tea or coffee. I got my beer in a plastic glass so i could take it outside for the second half.

Bradford came more into it in the second half but didn't really look like scoring. I must say though i thought Bradford got the short end of the stick from the ref as in looked to me as if they should have had two penalties but that's how it goes i suppose. It was 3-0 on 74 minutes following a great finish from Adams into the bottom right hand corner. Bradford did get one back but the Imps were good value for the win.

Much as been said by Lincoln fans about weather our Youngster are good enough or not. But on this showing with time a couple of them could make it in the game. I would like to say i thought that center back Kern Miller had a great game and looked very cool. If any of the youth squad are going to make it then its him.

I really enjoyed myself at this game and i hope to do more reserve match's next season. As i side note i thought i was sad going to watch this. Until somebody in the car park asked me the best was to the A1 motorway.He then told me it had driven up from Brighton to see this match!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Great Programmes of my collection (number one)

This is one of the oldest Programmes in my collection and for me is one of the most special ones. Its from an era when the Imps were playing in what is now the Championship and holding there own. An era that is unlikely to be repeated any time soon. Certainly you can't see Liverpool visiting Sincil Bank for a league match any time soon

Front cover

Team line ups in formation.

league tables and managers notes

back page

Over the summer i will be posting more pictures of my favourite programmes and the reasons why the are so special to me. This one is special because to me it was when our club was at its height. OK it was a long time ago but it gives us something to aspire to and remind us that we have had good times in the past and have a history that we can be proud of. I wonder how many people in the crowd on that day in 1957 could have foreseen the drastically different paths the two clubs who go on to take. Liverpool when on to dominate both English and European football. Lincoln city didn't.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Retford Town v Gedling Southbank

Nottinghamshire intermediate challenge cup final.

Tonight's final was played at Rainworth miners welfare home ground. I didn't take many pictures but by clicking here you can see more pics from when we visited earlier in the season for an FA cup match. Rainworth is always a friendly place to visit and is one of the better grounds in the NECL. This and its central location in Nottinghamshire made it the perfect place to stage a final.

The two sides play in different leagues. Retford compete in the Doncaster senior league while Gedling ply there trade in the Nottinghamshire senior league. (Although Nottingham senior league would be a more apt title.) From what i have seen the Doncaster league is the strongest so on that basis i had Retford down as favourates but i will admit i was a tad bias. Also the fact that on this cup run Retford have slammed 5 goals three times and 4 goals once against NSL sides helped. In fact we watched the third round match when Retford slammed 5 past Awsworth villa details here

We arrived in good time and got settled in the clubhouse. Beer was a very reasonable £1.50 per can. We chatted to a couple of rogue Retford united fans about various goings on in non-league football. Quite a few RUFC fans had made the trip to support town but i would say 70% of the crowd were cheering on Gedling. Just before the match i had a brief chat with Malc who writes the excellent "on the road" blog about how he felt Mansfield Towns season had gone. He wasnt to impressed with the stags season, a bit like my views on the Imps season really.

As with most finals the opening 20 mins or so was close but as the match worn on Gedling started to create so good chances and seemed to have Retford on the back foot. Only some last ditch tackles and poor finishing kept the game goalless.
On 31 mins Retford scored against the run of play. There was a hint of offside in the build up but who cares the ref gave it. Gedling didn't let there heads dropped and had another chance kicked of the line just before half time.

In the second half the game tightened up but as it wore on Gedling started to run out of ideas and ended up just hoofing the ball into the Retford box. Retford saw out the game to take the cup!

Admission £2 (including free programme)
Drink £1.50 per can of fosters
Wag factor 7/10 the sun always brings them out.
Quality of match 8/10