Before I start today let me clarify something; my partner and I don’t ‘do’ Valentine’s Day. I’m very lucky that she doesn’t feel offended if I don’t tell her I love her on the one day the capitalist world want me to, and she doesn’t need me to buy her overpriced gimmicky gifts in order to express my feelings. In return, I tell her when I want to that I love her, and I don’t do it by swelling Hallmark’s bank account either. I buy her flowers when I feel like it, not when society guilts me into it, and she does the little things for me that you can’t buy on the 14th of February (no, not that).
However, I can’t let the day pass without writing a blog mildly related to today’s ‘festivities’, after all as an amateur blogger I need to seize on anything I can to write about. So instead of sending a card to my wonderful partner, I thought I’d remind Lincoln City Football Club that I love them. Obviously not quite as much as Fe, but more than anything else.
I’ve been in love with Lincoln City for as long as I can remember, we were young and blindly in love by the time I turned eight. Childhood sweethearts if you like, I was innocently besotted with the Imps. I was too naïve to know what a love of a football club meant, I was too blinded to realise in the late 1980s that we were actually crap. My parents tried to warn me, my Dad made me pick a ‘big’ club from the Panini 86 sticker album. I picked Luton because they had Mick Harford. Once an Imp, always an Imp, even at eight years old.
Lincoln City always offered me an escape from the real world, and despite letting me down often they’ve always left me wanting more. As a teenager, they gave me a niche, made me a little kitsch when all around me were wowed by the fancy graphics of Sky Sports. Supporting City made me different, especially going to school in Horncastle which had its fair share of Cods.
At times going to see Lincoln was a bit of a dirty secret too. I hid my affection for them as I got older and realised that our love would be frowned upon. I progressed into adulthood and began to understand the commitment we made to each other. I’ve chosen them over jobs (more than once), over friends and quite often over actual proper girls. Whenever I have met someone to share the times with away from Sincil Bank, they’ve been forced to either accept my first love or (for want of a better word) do one. Most chose to do one.
I had a really tough personal time circa 2009-2011. I wasn’t in a good place and I pressed self destruct on several occasions. The one thing that always pulled me around was Lincoln City FC. Like a loving partner or spouse, whenever I fell, the club caught me. Not individual people (although many were there for me), not the quality of the football (certainly not in those years), and not even the free entry I enjoyed as Poacher. It was the sense of belonging that helped me through, the sense that at Sincil Bank my hurting didn’t seem as bad. Faithless healed their hurts in nightclubs, I healed mine watching sub-standard, unattractive football surrounded by a few thousand people foolhardy enough to share my passion. Whenever I’m at City I feel a part of something, I’m not cast adrift in the big wide world. Sincil Bank is where I heal my hurts, it is one of only two places I call home (the other being my actual home). In those dark years, I needed that, and despite the garbage football, the club always delivered.
Eventually, I found my feet and got back on the right path in my life, but my club didn’t. The club could only do so much, they stopped me dropping through the floor, but when you’ve got Chris Sutton and Steve Tilson as managers they’re not likely to be pepping you up in the week. When the groans and grumbles of a Saturday afternoon died away, something else had to help me get back to where I needed to be. I met Fe in August of 2011, just as we suffered relegation. Lincoln City began to stumble and fall, but every Saturday I was there for them, and they were there for me if I needed them. Like all good relationships though, we did suffer a torrid time, we did have our own ‘falling out’, and for me it came to a head in late 2013, lasting until to early 2015.
In truth, I made a real statement of intent by choosing my proper partner over the club and moving away to be with her. The enormity of that might not be obvious to some people, but when I used to do Poacher I always said the only way they’d get me out of Sincil Bank was in a six-foot walnut box carried by four (or six, I like a good-sized meal every now and again) pallbearers. Instead, I chose (for the first time ever) my lovely lady over my football club. She was and still is worth it. I made the ultimate sacrifice to demonstrate that in actual fact something was more important than football, something did matter to me more than Lincoln City. Only one person ever made me want to do that, and I tell her every day, not just on the 14th of February. Worked out alright in the end though, didn’t it?
Today, on Valentines Day 2017, my love for the club is as strong as ever. Since I walked away they seem to have made more and more effort to get me back, and it has worked. In truth as soon as I came back to Lincolnshire in early 2015 we hooked back up immediately. I knew where my homes were, one of them I began to set up with Fe, the other still stood proud in LN5, expecting me to walk back through the door as if nothing had happened.
Recently Danny and Nicky Cowley are the ones who have given me, given us, our club back, and whilst it’s inappropriate to mention them in any context on this made-up romantic day (or since they broke up with us in 2019 – Gary) it is prudent to remember what they’ve done.
Even if they hadn’t come along, even if Clive hadn’t put his money into our club, even if Bob had walked away instead of fighting what must have seemed like a losing battle, I’d still love this football club. It’s in my heart, it’s in my soul and although it won’t be getting a card from me this year, it is getting this dedication. Through the good times and the bad, I’ll always be there for you Lincoln City and I hope you’re always there for me too.
Loving them is easy these days. The delectable Fiona B understands that my passion for the red and white runs almost as strong as my passion for her, and she is happy to let us have a couple of hours every week or so. I’m not sure if it’s happiness at me sharing the two loves of my life, or delight at finally having the house to herself! She understands that I want to write about the club, and she gives me the time to do that without pressuring me to go and do loads of stuff. Alongside her my love for Lincoln City has flourished into something far more than I ever thought it could. I still get upset when we lose, I still feel like shedding a tear when we achieve things together. Through the tough times and the good we’ve stayed together and I know that we’ll be together forever. If you’re wondering whether I’m talking about Fe or the football club there, well I’ll leave that up to you.
I think the only way I could express something to my cynical, Valentine’s Day-doubting life partner on February 14th would be through a heart felt blog, but we don’t do the capitalist-created, money-spinning affair created to emptily proclaim love to the people you should cherish every day. So I’ll just write about Lincoln City instead, and hope it gets interpreted in the way it should.