Come Dine With Us

I didn’t think up the title to this blog, and if I’m honest I wasn’t even going to write about our experiences with Danny and Nicky Cowley on Saturday evening. Anyone hoping to read this and get a few juicy titbits to debate is going to be disappointed as well. Saturday night I was off duty.

Ian Greaves messaged me a few months back and said that there was a crowd funder reward that would allow people to take Danny and Nicky for a meal somewhere. Obviously I was in, and by the time the event had evolved into a meal hosted at someone’s house I was delighted. In fact a good feed in the company of ten Imps fans was enough to get me along, knowing our new management duo would be there was the icing on the cake.

The cake was iced, literally as we found out a couple of weeks before that Danny was giving up his birthday evening to attend. Everything was geared up for a night of immense fun, we just had to get through 90 minutes against Eastleigh unscathed as I imagine our guests wouldn’t be on top form if we’d been beaten. I knew I wouldn’t. 0-0 and a strong performance meant it wasn’t going to be a bad night.

I arrived at the house of our gracious hosts in good time. It’s been plastered all over social media today, but John and Lisa went over and above all expectations. I hadn’t properly met Imps fan John before, I’d met his business partner Pete plenty of times and I was delighted to see my old friend was there.

Amongst the other attendees were new friends and old, Helgy was there who should be praised for his insane crowd funder work which basically brought Nathan Arnold to the club. There were new friends such as Dave Mundin, David Martin and Alex Zablockyj. I wasn’t the first to arrive and I wasn’t the last but by the time the main event were due there was a collection of grown men as excited as if it was their own birthday party. Those beers kept appearing from nowhere and as they slipped down I was surprised to find they were having little affect.

Once I stopped drinking Zab’s non-alcoholic Becks it did make a difference though. I suppose that’s how alcohol works, you have to actually consume it, rather than just think you are.

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The evenings diners. Yes I did colour co-ordinate my trainers and my jacket.

 

Eventually Danny and Nicky showed up. I think there was a bit of apprehension as to whether they’d be comfortable or not, but from the second they walked through the door you could tell they were. Rather than them both holding court whilst the goggle-eyed diners looked on, they split up and mingled. I was chuffed to pieces to find Nicky recognised me as well. Little things like that make a big difference.

So onto the dining. We sat around a long table and ate some of the finest Mexican food I’ve had in a long while. I never seemed to have an empty bottle, because as soon as the last dregs of my now definitely alcoholic beverage was going down my throat, John appeared with a fresh one. If I required something to soak up the beers I could graze on Lisa’s fine spicy enchiladas. Perfect. If this genuinely were Come Dine With Me there would be no need to visit anyone else’s house because these guys nailed it first time.

Time crept on as we chatted all things Lincoln City, Concord Rangers, Braintree, England, etc etc. The football talk flowed between everyone and Danny and Nicky were as interested in our stories (or at least pretended to be) as we were in theirs.  Any thoughts of them popping in and popping out again were dispelled as it became clear they were there for the long haul. The desserts came, then the tequila’s came and then another round of tequilas. Ian looked a bit green around the gills by that point, and of course Danny and Nicky didn’t partake in the alcohol, but believe me a few others of us did!

I’m not going to write about the things that were said or anything like that. This wasn’t a chance for yours truly to find out about the Raggett tribunal or whether Akinola was on his way or not. This was a chance to get to know the human side of our new managers. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Danny on the press conferences, but to just chill and chew over the fat about a range of things really gave me more of an impression of him, and although Nicky is quiet in the media he is just as friendly and down to earth as his brother.

Danny posed the question who we thought collectively was the best Lincoln City XI of our time. There was an age range around the table, and by the time we got to left wing I thought we might have to fall out. I wanted Gainy in the centre and Puttnam out wide, but Pete was having none of it. I can’t recall if we got to the centre forwards, and I know for a fact I’ll get another blog out of that alone.

Ian had thrown a quiz together featuring some of our current players with starred out faces and the Cowley brothers were pitted against each other in a test of sibling rivalry. For the record Danny won but I’m sure Nicky commented that he let him win, like he always used to have to as kids!!

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Quiz time as Pete looks on still perplexed at my decision to have David Puttnam in my all-time Imps XI

 

Somehow the time got around to 11.30pm and my good lady travelled from Louth to come and pick me up. It was gutting because it truly was a night nobody wanted to end, certainly not us guys around the table. We had been granted access to two of the main reasons to be cheerful around Lincoln City at the moment, and they had proved to be insightful, witty and most of all just like you and I. They posed for photographs with us all, they shook hand and hopefully they had a really nice evening.

The guys didn’t have to be there, the crowd funder would have pulled in £25k without this reward, but (and here is a sneaky preview of a conversation) their philosophy is all about bringing the club and the fans closer. They believe that with fans on board clubs achieve success, and that at Lincoln we have a distinct advantage over other teams at our level because we actually have fans (I’m looking at you Dover). We’re a twelfth man, and just like the rest of the team the management spent time with us explaining their philosophy and their approach. At times I forgot I was sat chatting to the Lincoln City management duo and just felt I was chatting to a pair of blokes I’d met in a pub who happened to have a passion for the same team as I do.

Danny and Nicky aren’t here for the money, they don’t have time to spend any. They’re here for the job and the potential reward should we get promoted. They’ve not been motivated by pounds and pence like some managers we’ve had, they’re motivated by success on the field, and they’re motivated by being able to influence and drive the whole club forward not just a first eleven. I had a similar conversation with Kevin Cooke way before the new guys came on board, this idea of ‘club’ is growing bigger and bigger by the day.

On the way home I told my partner I had experienced one of the best nights of my life where all my clothes stayed on, and looking back now it may have been drunken exuberance but I wasn’t wide of the mark. I didn’t want to look like the little fan boy, especially not as Danny is only one month older than me, but on the way home I felt like that teenage boy who had met his heroes and found out that in actual fact, they’re bloody sound people.

Luckily I wasn’t alone. Two or three of the chaps couldn’t sleep, and on a rare outing for a sly smoke David Martin admitted to feeling much the same way. We didn’t dine with the Lincoln City managers last night, we dined with the two men that happen to manage Lincoln City. They were off duty, and despite giving up their precious personal time for us they never once looked like they didn’t want to be there.

By the time my poor fiancée finally dragged me out of the door it was just past midnight, and Danny and Nicky both left after I did. I think we all half expected two or three hours at the most, but those boys don’t do anything by halves. If success is brought about by winning over fans and getting them closer to the club, then Boreham Wood need not turn up on Tuesday night because there are ten of us absolutely 100% sold on the Cowley Brothers and their Lincoln City Revolution now.

I’m just hoping John and Lisa let me book in at their Mexican eatery for my own birthday, because there’s not a restaurant in the land that could have hosted a better dinner party.

It’s a ten from me. Can you give a ten in Come Dine With Me? I’m not sure, I don’t have time for TV because I always seem to be writing.

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