David Preece: A bigger loss than you may realise

I haven’t written for a while, a combination of planning the new Deranged Ferret and having a bloody big lawn have kept me busy. In truth I haven’t really wanted to keep banging on about needing a new manager or who it might be, because frankly I’m bored with it. Is it Billy Heath? Is it Robbie Fowler? I know it’s fun to speculate but I’m sure you don’t want to read a blog about it. It’s everywhere. Just get on with already Bob, appoint someone and give the dark tinted fans someone to aim their vitriol at.

No, I have to be moved to write which is probably why I haven’t bothered recently. The season petered out fairly miserably and what had promised to be a special season ended up seeming like a distinct lack of progress. There has been progress of course, but not always on the pitch on a Saturday afternoon, and all the off pitch stuff is meaningless without results and goals. Remember Carlton Boulevard?

Have you had your own Panini sticker? Thought not.


Okay it’s not that bad and as you know I’m pleased with the progress we made last season in terms of the playing squad and the sort of deals key players were given. I firmly believe Chris Moyses did sterling work and I’m not ashamed to stand by that.

However I have finally been moved to write, although it is two days later than I anticipated. This week goal keeping coach David Preece left the club with a little less fanfare than he should. His sterling work with Paul  Farman has paid dividends and his personality around the club will be sorely missed. However an announcement on his twitter feed was about your lot as far as recognition went. Just a few short weeks after declaring an interest in the managers job he has slipped quietly out the back door.

One can speculate on his reasons for departure, but it is abundantly clear that three weeks ago he was interested in and had probably applied for the manager job. He spoke of having ideas he’d like to implement, and we know he was already familiar with the squads strengths and weaknesses. I was delighted when I heard he was interested as personally he had my backing as the new boss.

When David signed for us I thought he was just another journeyman goalkeeper coming here to play a few games from the bench before sloping off like they all do. I remember ‘Budgie’ Burridge coming for a few games, likewise the clown prince himself Bruce Grobbelaar. Towards the end of their careers keepers often pitch up for short spells before disappearing again and I had no reason to suspect Preece would be any different.

I followed him on twitter anyway, what’s twitter if not for taking a look into the world of people you wouldn’t otherwise converse with? The usual footballer feed is full of emojis expressing how they feel after a loss or lots of use of the words ‘buzzin’, ‘bants’ and ‘sick’. I’m not getting at those players, but your average professional footballer doesn’t often have a lot to say, but manage to say it regularly anyway.

David Preece was very different, and his twitter feed was packed with a variety of stuff ranging from satirical observation to current affairs debate. I think I once saw him quote a philosopher when talking about his own beard, and that convinced me there was more to him than a few games in goal and a bit of ‘bants’. He was witty, intelligent and clearly a man who had paid attention to life. I started to read his written work too and he again proved to be a deep man with a great ability to express himself articulately. One candid blog I read covered his time injured just after breaking into the first team (forgive me I can’t recall if it was Sunderland or Aberdeen) and how he dealt with it. He had a knack of engaging the reader and really expressing his emotion. I like that. It’s what I try and do.

When he spoke on the radio there was no ‘erm’, or ‘you know’ at all, just very clear and informed comments on the game and players. As I got to know more of him through his continued exposure I liked him more and more. Here was a man who not only knew football but had enough about him to do something about it. Whilst I enjoyed his writing his occasional interviews on the radio convinced me he was management material. It seemed a no brainer when Chris said he was going that David Preece would step into the firing line and be given the opportunity to express his ideas.

David Preece
You have to respect that beard.

When someone like him talks about implementing ideas I believe they would be researched and considered ideas with a planned outcome. He knew the team having worked closely with them for three years. I truly feel he could have been the young and ambitious individual to take us forward.

My regular readers know I like to compare the world of Lincoln City with my own world selling building materials. When I first switched over to Jewson Lincoln many moons ago I went in as an assistant. The manager ruled as he would and I learned some of the trade from him, however I had already been in the trade myself and it allowed me to shape my previous experiences as well. I performed my tasks as I should and I got noticed. I like to think in terms of how I carry myself I have the similar persona of an educated man that David has. I learned and I developed and when the time was right I took the step into management. I had a lot of ideas based both around my experience in the industry, but also based on the resources I had around me. I was able to understand the team I’d worked with as assistant but also to bring the ideas I’d been developing to the table. The same could be said in the case of David Preece. His ideas for Lincoln City could come not only from his top flight experience with Sunderland and Aberdeen but also from his experience around our club for the last three years. In actual fact if Bob really wanted up and coming then he should have looked no further, because as I immediately thought when Chris stepped down, David Preece was the man for the job.

However it wasn’t to be and whether that was a catalyst for David leaving or not I’m sure we’ll never know. Men like him (and I) do not splatter unprofessional comments all over social media, no do we burn any bridges we’ve crossed over in our career. You won’t see twitter rants about him not being considered properly for the job (I’m looking at you Steve Thompson), all you’ll see is a dignified thank you to the fans and him moving on to the next project.

If the lure of writing doesn’t take him in another direction I have absolutely no doubt at all that he could surface in this league or the one below fairly soon in a key role, and I firmly believe if he did he could be a success. I find it a little odd that someone like Darren Cowley can be considered for the role because he’s done it for a season or so at Braintree, yet an intelligent and experienced pro like David Preece was dismissed offhand in Bob’s infamously unsubtle interview with Rob Makepeace. Are we destined always to rob somebody else’s Darren Cowley rather than find our own? Is it always going to be up to the Braintree’s to discover the young talented managers and up to us to try and prise them away?

Maybe of course he new manager is already agreed and David has left because he knows there’s no place in the current set up for him? Maybe the apparent dismissal of his chances by Bob prompted him to seek an opening elsewhere? Maybe he’s taking over from Darren Cowley at that comprehensive in Braintree now they look like having to go football league full time? Who knows. The one thing I do know is that Lincoln City have lost a witty thinking man and a solid ambassador as well as a top notch goalkeeping coach.

Best of luck mate, whatever you wind up doing.

My favourite Luton player of the late 1980’s. Just an unfunny ‘they have the same name’ visual gag.