It doesn’t matter what I said in my blog last week about Grimsby Town, when all was said and done their promotion isn’t something I openly cheered. I was delighted Village Green got beat because they’re an abomination, but this week facing so many gloating Cod heads has been tough. It turns out that the game wasn’t only a win / win, but by definition also a lose / lose. The rich boys from the village may have been kept where they belong, but the Cod heads all around me got exactly what they wanted. It made it even harder to accept when what they got is the one sole thing we want for our football club. We want it and they got it. I’m jealous, pure and simple.
Let me tell you about my current situation. I live in the Wolds and I work at a place in Louth. I am in charge and working for me are at least one and a half Cod heads (one is Man Utd season ticket holder but his successful club is Grimsby). I am friendly with managers of depots in Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes who are also Cod heads. I speak regularly to the Grimsby depot and the first port of call there on the phone is a Cod head. Of my football supporting clients I’d wager at least 85% have some affinity to the scum from Blunder Park ranging from season ticket holder to knowing at least seven of their squad. I am surrounded almost entirely by fans of the Cods, or Town as they are fondly named by locals.
Tonight I had a meeting a two hour car journey away, and the driver for this journey was a fellow manager and die hard ‘I’ve been to Wembley and I’m going again’ full on fish fancier. He’s a Cod, his kids will be Cods and their kids will be Cods. He also has a mobile phone packed with different footage from Wembley this weekend. He’s got them at Peterborough services, he got them outside Wembley and he’s got stuff from inside the ground. He’s got links to other peoples filming from different parts of Wembley. Do you know how I know about his extensive collection? He showed me, forcefully and incessantly. We arrived at the meeting early and I was forced to remain in the car while he played clip after clip of loads of blokes singing something about Padraig Almond to the tune of Achy Breaky Heart. I suffered it all.
We went into the reception area for the meeting and another Cod manager turned up. He made a beeline for me an immediately I got a whole barrage of witty one liners about league football, some Solihull Moors based banter before that catchy Amond song was repeated. Their only song repeated. He spoke endlessly about how the weight of non league football had been lifted and how nice it was to be a proper team again. It was endless, and all the time I had Achy Breaky Heart rattling around in my head.
On the way back I was obviously delighted when the driver chose to go the scenic route, past Blunder Park. He stopped and refused to go until I took a photo of the sign outside the ground proclaiming they were a football league club. Then we went down the sea front where a flag and shirt hang on a road crossing like a celebration of town pride (or like a memorial after a car accident), laughing all the time as I was forced to relive every moment of their triumph and every plan he had for this weekend and completing the double. He even offered me a ticket for the game and a chance to ride in his mini bus with the other Grimsby fans. Inside I died a little.
I died a little because even though I was living my worst nightmare I also felt somewhere in my heart that if the boot were on the other foot I would do exactly the same. I’d talk about trips to Blackpool, Doncaster and Portsmouth. I’d delight at just two relegation spots and all those lovely potential promotion spots. I’d laugh as they endured local derbies with village teams and endless trips down to the smaller grounds of London. I’d rub their noses right in it because I’d be bloody delighted we were football league.
The hard facts are I’m jealous it was them and not us. I want the weight of non league football to be lifted. I want Lincoln to be on FIFA 17 and I want to go to proper teams like Blackpool and Portsmouth. I want to have that moment where all the hard work, all those miserable defeats at home to Welling watching different average squads muster enough points to stay safe but not enough to change their purgatory. I want to have a pride restored and gain the football worlds respect for bouncing back yet again and becoming stronger in the process. I want a winning team that doesn’t have to try and qualify for the FA Cup. I want it all and to see the joy on the face of men whom I’ve swapped abuse with all year really does pain me. They’re football fans just like me with one subtle difference. Their team has been successful and mine has not.
I came home feeling a little deflated and thought about going to bed around nine. I sat back and thought about one throwaway comment one of the Cod heads made. He said he thought that we would be amongst the favourites next year. It wasn’t meant to console me or patronise me, it was a moment of genuine football discussion and opinion that I often share with these guys. It missed the target when he first fired it at me, but like a homing missile it hit as I sat in my kitchen. He’s right, we are.
We have the spine of a decent team with some good players contracted for next season, which is more than we’ve had since we came down to this division. We have a stable financial footing at the club which we haven’t really had since we came down. We have a good fan base with the potential to grow and we have fine facilities compared to our peers. Most of all we have a manager proven at this level but with a point to prove to the level above. He’s been there and done that when it comes to finishing in the play offs and he comes here to go to the next level with the facilities and structure that we now have. He’s not here for pound notes (although I’m led to believe he will be compensate for his efforts) but he is here to show he can do a job. Believe me as a manager of people I know those motivated by something other than money are the ones who truly do stand out in their field. This isn’t David Holdsworth or Steve Tilson or some other journeyman name that circulates whenever a job come up. Other people wanted this guy and his brother, they’ve made news and their approach to the game is something that leads to success. They had it at Braintree, they had it at Concord and now they want to have it with Lincoln City. I believe truly that they will.
So with that in mind I’ve asked my company to book the May 2017 meeting somewhere in Lincoln so that I can offer to drive the guys there. In fact I’m going to get my company to book the meeting slap bang in the Sincil Bank pitch so they have to sit there and look around our stadium for an hour. I’ll learn more than one bloody song and sing them after every sentence spoken at the meeting. I’ll record the whole Lincoln City championship season, every minute of every match played and I’ll put it on a computer chip and have it implanted into their heads so the only thing they can see, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is Alan Power lifting the National League Trophy.
Maybe then we’ll be even.