Monday, 7 May 2012

The best and worst of Lincoln City 2011/12

Yes folks its that time of year when i look back at the highs and lows of Lincoln City's season and pick out my favourite moments of the last nine months

Player of the season . Joe Anyon
Improved player of the season Tyrone Thompson
Underated player of the season Nicky Nicolau

Best Home performance. 

1st Lincoln City 2-0 Southport
2nd Lincoln City 4-0 Tamworth
3rd Lincoln City 1-1 Mansfield Town

Although towards the back end of the season Lincoln's home form picked up and the goals started to flow against poor sides like Tamworth and Darlington I enjoyed the evening match against Southport more. On that night we pretty much dominated a side that spent all season in and around the playoff area and made them look ordinary.  I have put the Tamworth one in there because it came at a time when the sides around us were all picking up points and it was looking like the relegation battle was going to be a lot closer than it ended up being. The local derby against the stags is in there due to the fact we were in a state of limbo on the coaching front yet came away with a point against one of the best sides in the division. It was also in my view Joe Anyon's finest game in a City shirt. I am told we played well in the 1-1 draw with  Luton and the 1-0 win over then league leaders Gateshead but i wasn't there so i can not include them.
Worst Home performance

Lincoln City 0-0 Carshalton Athletic
Lincoln City 0-2 Kettering Town
Lincoln City 0-1 Alfreton Town

City did put in some truly dire performances at the Bank this season. (I seem to write that every season) so once again there was plenty of contenders for this award. However the FA Trophy 2nd round match at home to Carshalton Athletic takes the award hands down. This match saw City fail to create one decent chance at home against a side three leagues below them. Its not as if Carshalton were having a good season either as they went on to finish in lower midtable in the Ryman Premier division but they comfortably held City in this match.
Second up on the hall of shame came the 0-2 defeat to Kettering Town way back in September. The Poppies had a dreadful season in the BSP last time round finished bottom of the division after shipping in 100 goals and finishing up with a goal difference of -60 and had plenty of off field financial problems that lead to them having 3 points docked. However despite all this they did manage to take 6 points from Lincoln City and keeping two clean sheets in the process. In the game at Lincoln the Imps did start the game well and missed a couple of decent chances however when Kettering took the lead in the second half City just simply curled up and died. What made it worse for me was that i had a friend at the game who had flown the best part of 4,000 miles to watch this crap. This was one of Kettering's three away wins all season.
In third place is the Alfreton game when City were crap from the first whistle to the last and barely created a chance of note. This game was also responsible  for one of my worst hangovers of the season.
All smiles before the Kettering Town Home game

Best away performance 

1st Hayes and Yeading 1-2 Lincoln City
2nd Fleetwod Town 2-2 Lincoln City
3rd Alfreton Town 1-3 Lincoln City

It may seem strange to place a win against a side that finished 4th bottom above a game that City pushed the run Champions so closely. The reason that i have done so is because of the circumstances going into the game. Before the match City and were only separated from Hayes in the last relegation spot by goal difference. It was simply a game that Lincoln couldn't afford to lose. Early in the 2nd half City were really under the cosh but weathered the storm to take a vital three points. Relive the drama here. The point at Fleetwood was on paper the most impressive result that City gained in the 2011/12 season and one of our best performances in the last few seasons. Again relive the glory here. In third place came the 3-1 win at Alfreton which was the first game after the club parted company with Steve Tilson. Despite the dreadful weather and stadium City played some great football and the atmosphere in the City end was fantastic. You could tell by the City players reaction at the final whistle how much the three points meant and how glad most were that messers Tilson and Brush had been removed. 

Worse away performances. 

1st Grimsby Town 3-1 Lincoln City
2nd Braintree Town 1-0 Lincoln City
3rd York City 2-0 Lincoln City

In a way i was slightly lucky here. It is widely regarded amongst the City faithful that the three worst Lincoln away performances were the 3-1 defeat at Carshalton, the 4-0 drubbing at Tamworth and the 2-1 defeat at Bath City. All of which i missed (Although Baz did have the honour of seeing the first two) So again i can not include them. We were awful in the derby on New Years day. Its never nice losing to Grimsby but to lose to the twats twice in a week is just too much. We never really looked like getting anything and were outplayed from start to finish. At Braintree we never got stuck in and Braintree just wanted it more. It was as if the players just couldn't wait to get back on the bus and get home. The match at York was pretty much over as a contest after about 5 minutes when York scored. 

Best jolly boys away trip 

1st  Colywn Bay 
2nd Braintree away (Blue square hop day)
3rd  Barrow 

With this award i look at the whole away day experience. The journey, the banter, the beer and food, and the game. When Baz picked me up i was already buzzing from the night before and getting to the ground nearly two hours before kick off gave us plenty of time to drink and top up from the night previous. So when you add together the factors of a City win, lots of beer, and a Hollingworth Kebab on the way home you get the perfect away day. This was also one of the most controversial away days as Felice keeps changing his story as to why he missed the game. First it was because he was at work; which was denied by a fellow worker, then it was because he was watching his lad play in the morning (that game was called of at 9.00am a full hour and a half before we left Retford) The truth is out there but alas may never be uncovered.
This is Colwyn!!
In second spot came out jaunt on the Blue square groundhop. Three games in a day. The first two matches were very enjoyable and we met some interesting characters along the way. Once again only Lincoln's performance (If you can call it that) put the dampener on the day. On the plus side we did all get free T shirts.
When the fixture list came out one game really stood out. Barrow away on a Tuesday night in September. It was immediately marked down as a "Must do" We set off at just gone 1 and arrived at just gone 6. Again it had all the perfect ingredients, decent pubs, a great kebab, and a real old school ground. The only downside was the piss poor performance from City.

Best place for a pre match drink

1) Barrow Clubhouse
2) Colywn Bay clubhouse
3) The Woking Snooker club.

Really hard to separate the top two. In the end i went for Barrow as it was a tad bigger but there really wasn't much between them at all. I could quite happily spend a couple couple of hours drinking in either of them without a care in the world. It is yet another lesson to clubs like Braintree, Hayes, and Fleetwood etc that if you let away fans in the clubhouse we will behave and put some cash into there club via the bar. We wont bite promise. On the whole most places were quite friendly to us in 2011/12 but i must say that Barrow were the friendliest and the only one that didn't bother with segregation and fair play to them. Another plus is that Barrow sell teamsheets in their clubhouse for a mere 20p.

Best chip shop

1st Regal fish bar- Lincoln

We ceased eating in football grounds a while ago preferring to find out local chippys to pig out pre game. Over the course of the season we have tried a few chippys but none can compare to our very own one in Lincoln that we use for home games. The one at Alfreton was decent but the wait was to long even though there was only about 3 people in the queue in front of us.
Although Grimsby had the better of Lincoln on the pitch in the chip shop battle we reigned supreme. The fish and chips we had there were by far the worst of the season. The fish was ok but the chips were truly dreadful.

Kebab of the season

 1st Sultan Kebab shop (Woking)
 2nd Hollingworth Kebab (Way back from a couple of games)
3rd Mr Kebab (Braintree)

This is the category we most enjoy judging. Due to the amount of evening games we did in the BSP this season we got to judge plenty. I am happy to say that we didn't really have a bad one all season. I have gone for the one we had in Woking before the Hayes and Yeading game was it was a very traditional type and cooked fresh. Nothing fancy just good honest cooking at a great price. Third place goes to Mr Kebab in Braintree. The only Kebab shop we visited that sold bottled beers in the shop.

Best Grounds visited.

 1st Fleetwood Town
 2nd Southport 
3rd Barrow

Fleetwood have spent quite a bit of cash on Highbury and you can not help but be impressed by it. How many other lower league grounds have Sky Sports on a flat screen TV in the home end toilets? At the other end of the spectrum but in a way just as nice was Southport and Barrow. Both old school proper football grounds and great places to visit.
Main stand at Southport

Worst Ground visited

1st Alfreton Town

Only going to name one here as it was by far and way the worst ground we went to this season. And thanks to the great god of cup draws we got to visit there not once in 2011/12 but twice within a matter of weeks. I never like to slate clubs especially a team that is playing at this level for the first time but its really hard not to. For our first match there we were penned in a corner of the ground with no cover as it pissed it down all evening. The shallow rake of the standing guarantees  to give you a poor view of the match wherever you stand and the metal fencing separating the pens just makes this problem worse. The annoying thing about all this is that given the home sides average attendance they could easily just give the whole of that end to the away fans and alot of the problems would be solved. There is a bit of cover at that end and fans could spread out a bit more. We were given an extra pen for our FA Cup game but it was only opened when it became obvious that we it was overcrowded in the section we were allocated. You would hope that the club will be a bit more prepared for their second season in the BSP but i wont hold my breath. Quite a few City fans didn't rate Braintee very highly  but at least we had the choice of  watching the game from either the side of the pitch or behind the goal and there was plenty of covering so i can't complain too much.
Braintree Towns main stand

Programme of the season

1st Stockport County
2nd Cambridge United
3rd Kiddeminster Harriers

Worse programme
1st Kettering Town
2nd Grimsby Town
3rd Braintree Town

Over the season i have collected most of the programmes from this season both home and away. The only three that i need are the Darlington, Telford, and Ebbsfleet away games. Stockport had a great programme last season in league two and have continued the good work this time around. Even at £3 its great value with plenty to read and a smart design. Pride of place still goes to darts player Tony O'shea's column.
It may be harsh to slate Kettering from their programme given the off field issues the club has gone through but there is no dressing up the fact that its £2 for 20 pages which includes 5 pages of adverts. All the stats and the away section supplied by the away club. All of these leaves very little to read. I have seen better efforts from sides further down the pyramid this season at the same price or as in many cases cheaper. Grimsby take the second place due to the awful CD case size of the programme. As for City's i would like to see us revert to the A5 size favoured by quite a few clubs this season and maybe a bit more content. Certainly a bit more information on the away sides would be nice.

Worst excuse for missing a game this season

1st Valentines day meal at McDonalds (Felice)
2nd A trip to Lego Land in Manchester (Baz)
3rd At work/watching a game that got called off/the cats ill (Felice for the Colywn Bay trip)

Turning point of the season

In my view the main factor in Lincoln City's upturn in fortunes in the final 5th of the season was the signing of centre back Tom Miller. Up until then one of the main weakness of the City side was the soft spot and lack of organisation in the heart of defence.  Although Gowling is a great attacker of the ball and quite often makes great last ditch tackles he isn't really an organiser on the pitch. This is the reason that David Holdsworth made John Nutter the team Captain while keeping Gowling in the club Captain role. While Richard Hinds was with us he and Gowling looked strong at the back but when he left we never looked as good with Rob Williams at the back. Nottingham Forest loanee Karlton Watson looked decent in the few games he played and i can't help but think he would have been a better prospect than Williams. As soon as City recruited Miller we looked alot more solid and he also weighed in with the all important winner at Hayes and Yeading. At the time of writing Miller is still in contract neogations with the club so lets hope we can get him signed up ASAP as i feel that if we hadn't have signed him our fate this season could have been so very much different. 

Lincoln City goal of the season

1st Gavin McCallum v Bath City
2nd Tom Miller v Hayes and Yeading (more for the importance than the goals quality)
3rd Jon Nutter v Newport County

Character of the season

As you would expect we meet quite a few of these on our travels this season. The winner is a guy that went by the name of Gary and took an instant shine to Lee on the Blue Square ground hop. The chap shared Lee's love of football programmes. Although he couldn't quite understand that Lee isn't a West Ham United specialist. I think he got confused with Felice who has a soft spot for the Hammers. Having chatted to him at the first two matches he seemed genuinely disappointed that we were going in the Lincoln end in the last match. knowing that football is quite an unpredictable beast i am sure our paths will cross again at some point. 

Shafting of the season

Felice Decolle v Random Groundhopper (See pic below)
Lincoln City 5-0 Darlington
Lincoln City 4-0 Tamworth
Well thats about it for the Lincoln City awards 2011/12 i hope you have enjoyed it and congratulations to all the winners. Of course there are no prizes on offer. Just the honour of a mention on this blog which had its highest viewing figures ever last month. Many thanks for reading and i hope you enjoy it and continue to do so in the future.


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