Captain Fantastic

This article appeared on my old blog originally on February 10th 2016

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A pre-beard Power

 

A few weeks ago I blogged about Jon Nolan’s move to Blunder Park and how I felt that he could be a massive asset to the Cods. I’ve been wrestling with my sanity ever since that outburst of positivity towards our rivals, and feel I need to redress the balance by talking passionately about a player that secretly Grimsby fans would love to see in a black and white shirt.

Firstly though I’d like you to cast your mind back to March 26th 1998, or if you’re too young then imagine it. Lincoln sign a young midfielder on loan from Nottingham Forest called John Finnigan, and in May move to make his loan deal permanent.

‘Finns’ as he was affectionately known played around 150 times for the Imps before departing for Cheltenham in 2002. He arguably played in the most successful team for a generation as we won automatic promotion to Division Two, and then in arguably one of the poorest sides as we were relegated and struggled back in the basement division. Finns was an accomplished footballer with a keen eye for a pass and a combative style that should have endeared him to Imps fans. However having featured in such a poor side under Westley, Stant and Buckley I feel he often gets overlooked, and had he played for us in the Keith play off days he’d be given the sort of welcome the likes of Yeo and the late Ricky Butcher used to get. Basically Finns should receive much more recognition, but suffered from being surrounded by very poor players in the main.

Fast forward to the present day. We languish in the doldrums having repeatedly failed to make any real inroads towards promotion. We have seen a succession of relatively poor managers wheel out a selection of incredibly poor players. However we also have a modern day John Finnigan who I fear may never get the recognition he deserves as a true Imps legend.

Alan Power is now closing in on 200 club appearances for Lincoln weighing in with almost 30 goals. He has the air of a proper footballer when he’s on the ball, always keen to spread play or pick out a pass, and he’s worn the captains armband for a majority of his stint in the red and white. He’s shown passion and commitment signing new deals and has offered a sort of stability since we’ve been in the non league. However I feel fans don’t fully appreciate his role and contribution to the cause.

I don’t attend as many games as I’d like due to (finally) putting my career ahead of my love of the Imps. However it is inevitable when I do attend a game I will hear at least one person berate Power for a poor pass or a run that ends in him losing the ball. ‘Fecks Sake Power’ is a regular comment that comes from somewhere behind me, and whilst that frustration is understandable at games I worry it may manifest itself into a blind fold, keeping fans from seeing his true worth.

I spoke briefly to a Grimsby fan today and as usual we had a bit of banter. I commented on them relying on Jon Nolan for a couple of goals and he didn’t realise he’d come from us! Once I confirmed he had been an Imp and had promise I likened him to Power as a ‘proper footballer’ but without consistency. As I did my fishy friend remarked ‘now there is a player I’d like Town to sign’ before he went on to tell me how much they’d like our bearded captain in his team. It wasn’t the first time a codhead had told me that, and it struck me that I hear more praise for Power from Grimsby fans than I do Lincoln fans.

Some might point to his occasionally lack of consistency, but the harsh facts are that if he was consistent he wouldn’t still be with us. With his ability and football brain I fear he could play League Two with relative ease, and perhaps the odd lapse in concentration is a reason he hasn’t. Perhaps him settling in Lincoln is a reason he hasn’t. Whatever it is we are incredibly lucky to have him playing for us.

Matt Rhead might get the plaudits up top, and we can talk about McCombes return or Muldoons form in the context of this season, but we must not forget that every manager we’ve had has started building his team using the brick of Alan Power in the middle of the park. For all his running and all his passion he hasn’t been able to single handedly carry us back in the league, but without our captain I fear we could have found ourselves in Stockports position long before now.

Last season he cut a forlorn figure at the end of the campaign, surrounded by a Jon Nolan and a Sean Newton who didn’t seem to have it in them to fight. He looked frustrated and off form, and my interpretation is he was angry. He was angry because he cares and he wants to be the man who captains us back into the league. Being surrounded by players who don’t care affected him badly.

This season whenever I’ve seen us I’ve always noted Power and his energy in the centre of the park. He does a lot of work that people don’t often see, starting moves and spreading the play. Granted he loses the ball on occasion, but more often than not if he plays well then the team as a whole play well.

So next time he misplaces a pass or misses a penalty I think we should all remember that he is still here fighting for the cause, he’s still here being lauded by fans of other clubs and he’s still here adding to those appearances week in and week out. In fact if he is still here when we do finally reach the promise land of the Football League he could well find himself mentioned in the breath as such legends as Richard Butcher, Dennis Booth or Lee Frecklington. My real fear is that he won’t get that chance to write his name in the history books, and fans will simply recall him in the same way they recall Finns; a decent player in several relatively poor City teams.