FA Cup third round, as a minimum. FA Trophy hopes still alive and well, league form nothing short of scintillating. Financials looking as healthy as any time in the last decade, and a real unison between club, fans and officials. It is hard to find any negatives around the club at the minute, unless you queued for six hours yesterday just to be mugged off by some low-life re-seller.
As the games progress and results keep going in our favour, I’m beginning to wonder what THAT moment might feel like. I’m beginning to wonder exactly what it will feel like at the exact moment we regain our Football League status.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not getting ahead of myself, I just didn’t use the word ‘if’ in case I was labelled a pessimist. At this stage it is still an ‘if’, but with every Forest Green draw and every Barrow defeat we’re pushed closer and closer to making our dreams a reality. At the start of the season we wanted to simply compete, to be ‘there or thereabouts’ as the last great Lincoln City manager liked to say. Here we are at the midway stage, and we’re setting the pace. We are making everyone in this league sit up and take note, and further afield we’re getting the nation talking. Just 48 hours ago I was invited onto the Liverpool Podcast ‘The Anfield Wrap’ (112,000 followers) to talk about Lincoln City.
When David Holdsworth was manager I remember remarking that it is the hope that kills you, and right now I have more hope of a league title than I think I’ve ever had as a Lincoln fan.
I started following City in 1986/87, and despite us winning a title the next year it didn’t really register with me what was happening. Since then third has been our best finish, and the elation of promotion can always be offset a little by knowing you weren’t actually the best team in the league.
I think 2003-07 despite the relative level of success we achieved, there was always that expectation of disappointment. We were almost always the underdogs, always the team not expected to triumph in the play-offs. I only one truly got myself ready for promotion then, and that was Cardiff 2005. I never thought I would truly feel what absolute domination felt like, a league win and the respect of 23 teams below you. I wasn’t sure if I would ever feel that as a Lincoln fan. Now? Now I’m beginning to think I might.
Two nights ago I stood in my kitchen reliving the Ipswich draw as I’m sure we all have at some point, and I particularly remembered the first goal. I didn’t erupt into immediate jubilation, I stood rooted to the spot just looking around, choking back perhaps the tiniest of tears. I’ve always been a pessimist and at that point my club had done one thing it rarely managed to do in the last 30 years. It proved me wrong. The buoyant jubilation of the goal was such a wonderful moment, and I chose to savour everyone else’s happiness rather than express my own. It’s been a long time since we had such a collective joy across the fan base.
So last night I think for the first time in my Imps supporting career I could look forward to April and ponder on what it might feel like to actually win the league. It might be at Southport, or it might be a week earlier as Macclesfield visit. We might not win it at all, but it really does feel more likely than it does less likely. So what will it feel like?
I imagine if it could be bottled and sold it would become more addictive than heroin and Maltesers put together. I imagine it will make every nerve in my body tingle with joy and satisfaction. I expect a side effect of moisture excretion from the eyes as well, and perhaps an uncontrollable urge to smile for days, which will be completely alien to me.
I know we’re waxing lyrical about everything at the club right now, and I know even horrible red top newspapers are taking note of our exploits, but in truth nothing will compare to that moment when the final whistle blows on a game that ends with us as champions. It is still a dream, there is still a lot of work to do, but it is a realisable dream.
Since we’ve been down in the National League I have felt our chances of winning it were as strong as our chances of winning the lottery. We’d bought a ticket but every season we’d need a miracle just to match 5 numbers and the bonus ball, and compete in the play offs.
This Lincoln City have done statistical research on which balls are most likely to come out, they’ve watched a thousand draws and determined every possibility. Now we’re sat here with four numbers already lined up. There’s two to draw, one is bobbling about in the tube and it looks like one of ours. We are getting closer and closer with every round of National League fixtures.
We’re getting close to the Football League Jackpot, and if we win I am guaranteed to cry and cheer in equal measure.
I’ve just read the news about the new contracts for Danny and Nicky. Keep believing, the promised land is on the horizon.