The perpetually bad FA Cup team Lincoln City are once again into the second round, with seventy minutes of comfortable football against a unusually cautious Altrincham side. I sat in a different place to usual, right at the back of the Coop stand due mainly to an attempt to hide from the bitterly cold November wind.
I had the ‘pleasure’ of hearing some opinions on Lincoln City that I wasn’t familiar with, so I thought today I’d use that wonderful journalistic tool ‘five things’ to relay to you the things I learned from the experts today.
Before I start, from what I could gather these ‘fans’ had been to Chester last week so we’re not talking about part-timers or new faces. We’re dealing with Imps fans who have watched as much Lincoln City as any of us recently. Apparently.
Alex Woodyard does not have a footballer brain
Perhaps the most bewildering of all opinions I have ever heard in my life. Genuinely not only did we hear he didn’t have a footballers brain but every time he played a pass it was met with a sigh of derision. He was criticised for not playing it out wide enough, for giving the ball away and bizarrely for running around too much. I shit you not.
This wasn’t the first nugget of wisdom I learned today but I had to put it at number one because it was the only one I challenged out loud. Once Woodyard won a tackle and played a pass (approx. every two minutes of the match) I loudly applauded and shouted ‘well played Woodyard’. Apparently the fans sat near me were deaf too because they continued oblivious to actual facts.
Matt Rhead spends too much time on the floor
Now even my Dad got mad at this and in the past he has been one of Rhead’s biggest critics. Nobody can dispute the big man is an asset, and today he won a majority of his headers. Coming off the back of a man of the match display against Chester I didn’t think I’d have to listen to Rhead doubters today, especially not those who had been at Chester. I actually had to restrain my old man from remonstrating with the guilty parties he was so angry!
At half time my Dad went for a leak so I chatted briefly to the guy who had accused Rhead of being on the floor the whole time. I gently pointed out his goal scoring feats and how much of an asset he was. The fan agreed but still said he spent too much time on the floor and he wasn’t Football League quality. I didn’t have the heart to tell him we weren’t Football League, I just sat down and thanked the lord I wasn’t a short-sighted, narrow-minded moron.
We didn’t kill the game off at 1-0, we didn’t kill the game off at 2-0
At first it was unhappiness at only being 1-0 up. I could share that to a degree, lets face facts Theo Robinson should have scored two, if not four. However when Alan Power netted the second I thought the game was relatively safe. We needed a second goal, their consolation proved that, but the second goal was the cushion we required to make the match more secure. However as soon as Alty got their goal some ‘fans’ in front of me turned to the ‘fans’ behind me and asked him to find the postcode for Altrincham Tuesday night. It wasn’t just idiocy behind us, it seemed to be all around. I’ll be honest, I was ashamed.
We tried to pack the midfield today and it didn’t work
Plain wrong. We played the same tactics we’ve played the last ten games or so. Two up front, replaced the pacey striker like-for-like as the game wears on and then protect Rhead for the last fifteen. It’s been textbook and it looked no different today than it has at any other point over the past few months. Apparently from the off today we were more negative than we have been, we played too many in midfield and we didn’t look like we could break them down.
Six touches Altrincham had in our penalty area. Six. So if you were sat behind me today (or indeed in front of me) then I’m afraid to tell you, you’re wrong.
Nathan Arnold only bothers when he thinks he’s going to be subbed
I can’t believe I’ve written the five headlines I’ve just written. Arnold (who was referred to all game as ‘the Grimsby player’) has been one of our standout performers, a marquee signing who Mansfield, Cambridge and Grimsby would all welcome back even now. He grafted all afternoon and set up Alan Power’s goal with some smart football. Yet when Muldoon came on all I heard for ten minutes was ‘Arnold is only trying now because he thinks he is being subbed’. By this time both my Dad and I were pretty bloody angry, and I think we restrained each other from causing a scene.
Casual racism is alive and well
I might be out of order here, but I heard something I wasn’t entirely happy with. Now please do correct me if I’m wrong. Every time Alan Power got on the ball I heard him referred to as ‘that Paddy’, or variations of it (useless Paddy bastard, etc etc). Firstly it made me angry because I love Power, I think he’s a great servant to the club and he’s someone who has always, always ran through walls for the red and white of City. I’m not sure if referring to him in that way was racist or not, but what was wrong with calling him Power? Maybe I’m being a bit too sensitive, and if that’s the case then I hold my hands up. I felt that he was being referred to in a derogatory manner and it made me mad, even madder than hearing Woodyard doesn’t have a footballer brain.
All in all I was satisfied today. Sure after an hour it should have been 4-0, but Theo was way off the mark with his finishing. That said he got in the positions to have the chances, and one philosophy on striking is being in the right place is eighty per-cent of the battle. We still won, we’re still in the hat and despite those last twenty minutes or so we’ve come away with smiles on our faces. It was a proper cup tie when (and only when) Alty decided to come out and have a go, and although many expected a white wash it didn’t happen.
If those people sat all around me (we are talking two separate groups) are representative of even ten per-cent of our travelling contingent then there’s no wonder in the past players like Power and managers like Chris Moyses have clashed with them. They spent ninety minutes spouting the most un-informed, ill-educated bile I have ever had the misfortune to endure, and believe me sometimes my old man tests my resolves himself. When we both agree and have to calm each other down you know it’s bad.
For the record they do like Bradley Wood and they think the best footballer at the club is Terry Hawkridge, who doesn’t get games because he’s ‘too good’.
Next week I’m sitting back near the 617 where at least the fans support the bloody team.