I’ve spent a portion of today talking about ticketing, and I wanted to pen a quick blog about it before I slope off in front of the TV.
Firstly, today has been a really tough day for my family. Today was the day we said goodbye to my Uncle Jeff, and before you think there’s a heartfelt blog about his time as a City fan: there isn’t. He came to a few games as part of the family tradition, but he wasn’t die-hard like me or my old man. I just wanted to write something on here to acknowledge his passing, and obviously express my deepest condolences to his nearest and dearest.
As part of the proceedings we had a well-attended wake at a local pub where I mixed with many friends and family members whom I had not seen in many years. Almost all of them had something to say about tour football club. Some people had got my book as a Christmas gift, others read the blog. Some had watched us on Tv, others had undoubtedly glanced at our position as they left their house knowing it’d make a good conversation piece. It is very humbling to chat to people you barely know who read what you write every day, and I’m glad that for some my name has become synonymous with Lincoln City Football Club. I’m also glad our club, so long a source of amusement, has become a hot topic of conversation.
Away from the usual discussion about how well we’re doing, the issue of tickets got raised. A few of the assembled mourners were season ticket holders, and we got to discussing the allocation policy. It made for an interesting debate.
Before I go on I’d like to state that I have got my Burnley ticket, thanks to the generosity of season ticket holder Patrick o’Reilly. He leant me his ST so that I could secure a seat, and another good friend queued for me today to purchase it. I’m talking from the comfortable position of knowing I’ll witness our first FA Cup 5th round outing in 130 years.
I understand some passionate fans won’t get to go, the allocation simply isn’t enough to go around everyone. However, the majority of people I have spoken to believe that the club have got it spot on this time around, even those who end up suffering because of the way it’s been dealt with.
The classic example is my old man. I write about my Dad a lot here, and more often than not my words about him mask our constant disagreements about the club!! He is an ST holder, and every week he goes along to the game with his partner Mo who is not an ST holder. They went away together to Ipswich, and Mo is usually at the games whenever Dad is. I think Dad and I have had one game this season where Mo hasn’t been present.
Due to the nature of the allocation my Dad won’t be going to Burnley. He has no desire to attend such a big match without Mo, and as a non strEight ticket holder and a non ST holder, she stands as much chance of getting a Burnley ticket as she does the winning lottery ticket. Even if one were available she wouldn’t want to sit apart from my Dad, and that is understandable.
I expected my Dad to be spitting feathers at the injustice, but instead he was calm and accepting of the situation. As much as he’d like to see the game, he simply wouldn’t want to go without Mo. As much as he believes ST holders deserve some form of priority, he doesn’t think it entitles them to two tickets per head. I expected him to be indignant that his loyalty in July hadn’t been reciprocated, instead he commented: “I think they’ve looked after us enough through the season already”. That’s a fair comment, ST holders still get priority, but anymore than one ticket would perhaps be galling to those not in a position to pay so much up front.
Our recent success has seen a glut of returning fans and a collection of new faces too: these people are not the enemy, and Lincoln City FC are not the enemy either. We have a shade over 3,000 tickets and demand of (I imagine) 6,000 or more. No matter what the club do, no matter how they set about doling those tickets out they will be wrong in someone’s eyes.
I’m aware even staff at the club are struggling to lay their hands on tickets, and whilst I sympathise with those people I see the need for absolute caution when allocating those precious tickets. Not since Willy Wonka opened up his factory has a small piece of paper been worth so much, and I think the club are doing everything they can to ensure a broad spectrum of loyal individuals get a seat in the David Fishwick stand.
The season isn’t all about one cup game at a ground we’ve been to a hundred times before, it is about each and every National League game between now and the end of April. Saturday will see unprecedented queuing at Sincil Bank as final strEight ticket holders queue for Burnley tickets, and some queue just to exchange their stickers for Woking tickets. What a lovely issue for our beloved football club to have, too many customers.
So whatever happens to you personally this week, tickets or no tickets, think bank to the day we got beat by North Ferriby heavily in the FA Trophy. We could still be there, losing to teams from the league below, pitifully dragging out an existence in the bottom six, ashamed of how far we’ve fallen with no means of reclaiming our Football League spot. We’re not though, we’re playing good football in front of big crowds, and unfortunately that comes with a small cost.
RIP Jeff Hutchinson 1945-2017
You did it your way.