Tonight I’ve delved into the archives (the hard drive) to find the programme notes I wrote the last time we had a significant say in what was to happen once the 46 league games had been concluded. I wrote these ahead of our game with Chester before the play off defeat by Bristol Rovers.
The end of yet another season is upon us, and barring some magnificent performances elsewhere today we’ll be looking at a record fifth consecutive tilt at the play offs. This could be measured as success or failure depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty, but I for one would take our position over that of Boston and Peterborough any day. I suspect at the beginning of the season many of us would have settled for 22nd above those two teams, and despite our poor form since Christmas I am perfectly happy with a chance to play at the new Wembley.
The temptation is to write about the end of the season and the end of certain era’s, but I’d like to focus on new beginnings instead. In particular I’d like to mention two people who are unlikely to feature at Sincil Bank after the summer.
Paul Morgan will potentially be moving to pastures new this summer after a distinguished Imps career spanning the most unlikely of ups and downs. Morgs was present when the spectre of financial ruin and conference football loomed large, he was present for the first play off final and he’ll hopefully be present to witness us achieve our goal of League One football. It will be a sad day when Irelands Bobby Moore hangs up his Imps shirt for the last time, but I have little doubt that his fresh start at a new club will bring him the success he’s achieved here at Sincil Bank. Once Morgs has gone he’ll be mentioned in the same breath as Imps legends such as Trevor Peake, Sam Ellis and Grant Brown. It’d be nice if the fans could give him the vocal send off he so richly deserves whether we make the play offs or not.
The other new start is for reserve goalkeeper Simon Rayner. I accept his departure hasn’t been confirmed, but signs do indicate that he may be making way for another man to attempt to dislodge Mazza from between the sticks. The big Canadian may not have appeared that many times for City, but every time he has he’s performed with passion and pride. Not a lot of our fans will know Rayner has battled through a number of set backs in his career, and at one point played Champions League football for Port Talbot and Barry Town. It is a shame that such a likeable character hasn’t managed to make the grade at City, but his recent outings for Torquay have brought him to the attention of a few managers. The last two weekends he has featured in the media’s various ‘teams of the week’ and perhaps a new start might be the move he needs to kick start his career in English football. I wish him the very best of luck.
Personally today is also the start of a new era for myself. I recently landed a new job that will allow me to attend every Saturday game, home or away. Unfortunately my away trips have been limited due to my current job, and hopefully I’ll now find myself able to take in trips to Leeds and Forest next season.
I suspect the ‘new beginnings’ do not end there. Many staunch Imps fans will next season find themselves at University or colleges, some of you will probably be married or have kids and many of your will possibly move away from the area. In your place there will be some fresh faces, those returning from educational institutions or moving back to the area. Those who do leave can be safe in the knowledge that when they do return, our football club will be here waiting to welcome them back with open arms.
Win, lose or draw today life goes on and football goes on. Should the impossible happen and we don’t make it the tears will soon dry up and the disappointment will be replaced by optimism. If we do go through the same applies for the semi finals and the play off final. If come May 27th its Lincoln City receiving the play off trophy then I guess there will be a new beginning for all of us, a life playing in the countries third tier once again. In my lifetime that has only happened once, but as my Dad regularly reminds me Lincoln are ‘traditionally a third division club’. Perhaps its time for tradition to come back home.
I’d like to add that as a big believer in omens and coincidences there are several things worth noting. When the Imps were promoted in 1998 one of the clubs dropping out of the league above was Brentford, much the same as this year. When we first made the play offs in 2003 it was a goal by Simon Yeo that clinched our place. I wonder what price on him to score today? It’s also worth noting that we have never appeared at the old Wembley, and fate does have a habit of surprising you. I’d like to wager a bet that it doesn’t take us 120 years to appear at the new one!
So good luck to everyone leaving us, and lets embrace all those joining us. One of those new faces will be here today, 2 year old Alfie Stimpson. His Dad Paul is a massive Imps fan and Alfie will doubtless be gracing us with his presence for the next fifteen years or so until University beckons him. I’d like to welcome Alfie to the Bank and congratulate him on making the superb choice of following the Imps, albeit with a little push from his old man.
See you at Wembley.