Sunday, 14 July 2013

Lincoln United 1-7 Lincoln City

So here we are. The first game of the Imps pre season that the fans are allowed to attend. (City lost a behind closed doors game against Chesterfield on Tuesday evening). And it was a short journey across the City to see our old friends Lincoln United. United is one of my favourite non league clubs and the place where i got my first taste of non league football many moons ago on a cold winter evening against Whitley Bay. The contrast from that day to today couldn't be more striking as it was one of the hottest days of the year, and certainly one of those days when it is far better to be stood watching with a pint in your hand than runnning about on the field of play.
Thirsty work this football lark

Footballing wise this wasn't the high point of the weekend. Not by along way, because Friday night marked the beginning of the England Womens team's Euro 2013 campaign.How would it go? Would it be a comfortable win to kick off our unrelenting march to the title? Well no not exactly, having fought back from going 1-0 and 2-1 down, our Lionesses lost in the last minute of added time when keeper Karen Bardsley "Did a Felice" and made a pigs ear of a cross and knocked the ball into her own net. If England are to progress in the Championship then they are going to have to do it the hard way...Again. At least a good night was had by all at Mind of an Imp HQ as the amount of empty bottles,cans, and pizza boxes can testify.

I was attending this game alone today as Baz was at work and Del boy was busy gardening then sorting out his smurf collection. This meant the train to Lincoln then the long walk from the station to the stadium. I could shell out and take the bus but i am too financially astute for that. In truth the walk wasn't so bad. (The two bottles of Lucozade helped a lot) And before too long i was stood supping ale alongside many other Imps supporters outside Lincoln United's club house. It was good to have a chat with the Don of the Lincoln Ladies supporters club; Tom, about plans and stuff for the second half of the 2013 season and beyond. I would also like to say "Grazie" for the flag mate.

The entrance fee for today's game was a very reasonable £5 with the programme costing 50p. It wasn't the standard issue that United do for league games, but any programme is better than no programme and it was my first of the 2013/14 season. This season is a big one for United as it is their 75th year in existence. The club have undergone a huge change in personnel over the summer, with a new managment team being brought in and lots of new players being signed. One familiar face being former Lincoln full back/Midfielder from time to time; Paul Mayo. The club have also upped their game on the social media front these days and are very active on Twitter (@LincolnUnited ) So go give them a follow and if you can make it down, go and take in a game this season, your support would be very much appreciated

I spent much of the game in the presence of Kate Jackson who very kindly pointed out who the new Imps players were. I have taken my eye off the ball this pre season as to who the new faces are due to all the ladies football stuff i have been doing, so it was good to have them pointed out to me. She has also done an excellent video about today's game which features several fan interviews (myself being one) and some of the goals. Check it out here. 

Youtube video

City, as the scoreline suggests, were on top for pretty much all of the game. The most noticeable thing for me was the fact that we looked to pass the ball round quite alot more than we have done in recent years. New signing Danny Rowe got the ball rolling in the 4th minute and the Imps never looked back. We were stood to the side of the City dugout for the first half and it was interesting to see Imps gaffer Gary Simpson in action and hearing his instructions to his troops. One example of this was after United took the kick off he bellowed out that he demanded that his side won the ball back within six seconds (they just managed it). City were happy for much of the first half to knock it around and draw United out before hitting the ball long. Given the heat, neither side went hell for leather but it was entertaining fare none the less. The only real downside in the first half came when Todd Jordan left the field on crutches when he was on the receiving end of a poor challenge from a home player. The tackle was a little OTT and not really the type of thing we need to see in a pre season game. 
About ten minutes before the break i took a stroll to check out the BBQ that United had set up outside the canteen and purchased my first cheeseburger of the 2013/14 season. At a very reasonable £2.50 it was decent enough; a solid start on the food front for the season. 

We moved round to the covered end for the second half and it was an ideal spot to watch City rack up the goals as United tired both mentally and physically. Alan Power notched the Imps second minutes after the restart, and City never looked back. Further goals were added when Danny Rowe bagged a couple in the second half to complete his hatrick (one being a great volley form the edge of the area) and another from new signing Adi Yussuf. The player that had got most fans talking however, was trialist Bohan Dixon who bagged himself a couple of goals and looked an interesting player. It has to be said that the United keeper didn't have the best of matches, but its always nice to see a few goals to start pre season off. 

I have always said that you shouldn't read too much into preseason friendlies or any other type of friendly result, and it remains the case here. For me results are the least important thing in games like this as the main aim is to look at new players and prospective players. Again its hard to judge a player but i was impressed with Yussuf and Rowe and the overall style that City played, although given that City were up against a side that play their football that play 3 divisions below them and are part time, it's tough to get a true assessment.
Off the field i was quite impressed with an attendance of 721 and the gate monies will be most welcome by the Whites. The crowd is alot bigger that the normal attendance at Ashby Avenue but all the staff at United handled the day very well so a huge pat on the back to all the bar and catering staff. 

Next up for City is a trip to Harrogate Town who play their football a league below City and should present them with a much sterner test than they faced today. After than its a trip to Grantham. Its all hotting up as the say. 

In other news. 

  • The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the New York Mets and are now 56-36 for the season
  •  Lee Housman has attended his first game of the 2013/14 season
  • Myself and Barry have now done 3 times as many games as Felice this season. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Plans ahead for the 2013/14 season.

Hello one and all. I know its been a quiet few weeks on here and i apologise for that, but i have been a busy bunny elsewhere. As some of you know over the past few months i have been covering the big women's games (two England Women's internationals and the Women's FA Cup final) from the press box for SportsInternational online magazine. I have thoroughly enjoyed this work and its something i look forward to doing more of in the future. I will be doing a blog on my experiences of doing this in the next week or so. It's a bit of an eye opener and a steep learning curve but i like to think i am on the right track with this new challenge.

On to my plans for this season. For the first time in 5 years i won't be purchasing a season ticket at Lincoln City Football Club. This is a pretty big deal for me as before those 5 years i was a steward at the Bank, since the 2000-01 season in fact. Even before then i had had season ticket since the 95-96 season. So this will pretty much be my first time since i first started going that i will be a "pay on the day" type of fan.

Whats the reason behind my decision? Well as in most cases in life its a mixture of things. Firstly i am off to America for ten days at the end of July, and it was just too tempting to use the money i would have spent on a season ticket on the holiday of a lifetime. But it's not the main reason; the main one is simply the cost.

Last year my season ticket in the Stacy West cost me £250 which in my view was fair enough. However the club have decided to shut the Stacey West this season on "cost saving" grounds. This means that season ticket holders or in fact anybody else who sits in that stand is hit with a price hike by making them go in to either the Echo or CO-OP Stands. The cheaper prices are still available behind the South Park end but as anybody who has watched a game can confirm, the view is dreadful so it would be a case of paying the same price for a worse view.
The price rise for sitting in the other stands was an extra £30 on the season ticket. The walk up prices are two quid higher which means that its £18 to watch 5th tier football. Furthermore the club has removed the early bird price and the categorizing of games, so its £18 or bust no matter the opponent. Luton or Grimsby,  Salisbury or Alfreton, its 18 of your finest English pounds. And this on the back of another dreadful season  where we only confirmed our place in the division on the last day of the season.

I won't be a stranger at the Bank this season, far from it; hopefully the club will reintroduce the "Six pack" deal where you can buy 6 tickets at a discounted rate. If they did, i would help myself to a couple of these giving me 12 games (see i am good at maths me) And that would more than likely be enough. It would also mean that i am not losing money on midweek games (and there are plenty of the buggers in this league) that sometimes i miss due to one reason or another.
I may come across as bitter about the price rise but i am really not. The club have to make a calculated decision on the best way forward for them. As with all changes in life there are winners and losers and on this occasion i am on the losing side. Only time will tell if the club in the long run has made the correct decision on its prices. A poor start and i can't see many folks dashing to pay £18 on a Tuesday evening to watch City tackle Dartford.

When one door shuts another opens. This does give me more opportunities to visit different grounds and get about a bit more. I still hope to get a few of the Imps away days in (mainly new grounds) so its going to be an interesting season. Its only early and i haven't really started planning yet but i have trips to Blackburn Rovers, Lewes, and Pinxton FC already penciled in. Not being committed to the season ticket also means i can see more of the Nottingham Panthers this season and away trips to Coventry and Sheffield are serious possibilities. The beauty of Nottingham is that i can double up the Ice Hockey with a non league game in the afternoon and there is plenty of choice there. Maybe even a Forest or Notts County game if it falls on one of their cheap ticket days. Who knows.

I will still drag my arse around the local non league scene and hope to do a midweek game every week somewhere and a look forward to visiting and writing about old favorites like Retford United, Gainsborough, Lincoln United, and Shirebrook etc. Eating as many pies and burgers and knocking back as many pints as i can. Thank you for reading this website over the years and i look forward to many more journeys around the football world together.