I read other Lincoln blogs when time allows, and despite having a terrible time at work at present I found time to read Steve O’Dare’s blog about Imps fans and the Stacey West, and obviously I thought I’d share my views on the subject. It’s what I do, I drink and I share my views (Game of Thrones reference there for all the GoT fans amongst you).
I’d guess from the name of my blog you’d realise I have more than an affinity to the Stacey West End, a name that has stuck over and above Clanford and Railway End for good reason. I watched my first game in there on October 5th 1986. I watched the Conference side of 87/88 claim the title from there and I climbed the wall and ran onto the pitch as a young kid when we beat Wycombe 2-0. I sat in there with my granddad and my Dad over the years making memories. I cried in there against Blackpool in 1992 when I first attended a game after my granddad passed, and when I was regressed during my training to become a hypnotherapist I went back to the days three generations of Hutchinson’s stood side by side watching the occasionally Mighty Imps. I sat in silence as that CENSORED Danny Hylton scored and celebrated for Aldershot to condemn us to this basement league. Through the hard times and the good I’ve sat squinting at the opposite end of the pitch wishing we were attacking the SW end. It’s where I belong.
Steve wasn’t entirely right about the 617 wanting to be back there, they moved well before the decision was made to hand the stand over to away fans. The official line back then was money and the costing of having it open, but the poor views had seen fans leave in their droves and maybe the perceived ‘singers’ moving elsewhere was a nail in the coffin. Rather than want a return to the SW perhaps the 617 indirectly caused it to become abandoned and unloved as it is now.
As Steve correctly pointed out though a return to the SW should surely now be viable? I’m not one to get carried away at the investment we’ve received, but I would hope it is sufficient enough to maybe gauge if home fans would like to return to the stand for at least a year or two before the ground move comes to fruition? The 617 may not want to move but other fans like to sing who are not associated with the ultras group, and at present to have us peppered across the main stand isn’t going to encourage us to sing our hearts out. I sit to the right of the halfway line (I’m right side wherever I sit) and when I join in a 617 tune I can often either not hear them properly or those around me look at me like I’m singing in the St Andrews stand. I used to be a vocal fan but recently I’ve become an introvert, sat in my seat studying the game and cheering only when we score. Maybe I don’t want that, and maybe others don’t want it either.
Yeah the views are better from the sides, but nothing can beat that thrill of seeing the ball nestle in the net just a metre or two in front of you. Sitting in the clouds allows for noise to travels but it doesn’t get you up close and personal to the action. When Torquay missed that penalty in 2003 to push us towards the play offs I was as close to the post as I could get without wearing Alan Marriott’s shirt. The fans put the penalty taker off, kicking towards a hostile and passionate home support had to have an effect – it certainly spurned Simon Yeo on to bag a brace when he came on in the semi finals a week later. Being able to question the referees parentage in within earshot of him certainly adds to the match day experience.
Maybe the 617 do want to stay where they are and fair play to them. They bring something to the table on a match day and have an identity which they protect fiercely. However some fans want to just sing without belonging to anything more specific than Lincoln City football club, and for those people there doesn’t need to be a ‘block 7’ or (and I hate this expression) a ‘singing section’. All they need is an end of the ground where they know they can go and sing their heart out. Once upon a time the whole of Sincil Bank used to sing, but now the 617 have the lone voice whilst the others look longingly back at twelve Dover fans in the left of the traditional home end just wishing we could respond with a song.
If the club really want to attract fans back there maybe it could be the designated ‘smoking end’. I know a few boys who would swap a half decent view for a lungful of poisonous toxins at half time.
Joking aside home fans have a traditional end and whether the views are good or not they’ll migrate back there given a chance. Liverpool have the Kop, United have the Stretford End and we had the Stacey West. The club have been scoring spectacular wins recently with the appointment of the Cowley brothers and the attraction of investment, but if they really want to ice that cake like Mr Kipling then they need to reopen my stand. If they want us to have an ever-so slight advantage when kicking that way they need to get bums on seats behind the goal so I can stand up and proudly proclaim ‘I’m the right side, I’m the right side, I’m the right side Stacey West’, and so I can make my ample frame as big as possible when the opposition are coming through to score in a misguided attempt to make a difference. I don’t want to be a face in the big stand with everyone else, I want to return to my home behind the goal with my Dad and all my memories of years gone by, at least until we get our shiny new ground elsewhere. Please Bob, at least give us one last hurrah at the end when it all began for me.