History is a funny old thing really. It was one of my least favourite subjects at school, looking back at things that had happened seemed irrelevant to me. So what if there was socio-political effects from the plague? So what if this king killed that king a thousand years ago. None of it matters now, what has happened in the past doesn’t define a country or a person.
One thing that is defined by its history is a football club. In no other field (except maybe in the National Trust) does it have such an impact on who you are and what you stand for. Fans live and die telling tales of when ‘they were there’, whether it is Man Utd fans from ’68, Liverpool fans from the 90’s or Lincoln fans in 2003.
Since I’ve left school you may have noticed I’ve become a little more at one with history, or at least one specific area of it. Lincoln City have become my chosen subject, I study for many hours a day learning about the past, reliving those moments I was at and trying to package it all up and deliver it to you through the medium of semi-witty prose. When you are a Professor of Imp Studies you quickly realise that those memorable moments are often packed out by filler, the white noise that happens but gets blanked out. Your club history isn’t necessarily created every single week. It’s created in small steps, in individual games and delicately formed over a number of weeks, months and seasons.
Part of the essence of a Football Club is where it has been and what it has done. Players change, kits change, grounds change, but fans never change. We don’t support a team in red and white, because occasionally we’ve been all red. We’re not all about Sincil Bank, we’ve had a ground before and we’ll have another one after. Every thing changes at a Football Club, and the thread that weaves it into something real, something tangible is its history.
They used to sing ‘you’ve got no history’ at Chelsea, many years after the 1970 FA Cup win which always seemed bizarre to me. Clubs like Manchester United claim to have a rich history because they’ve won more trophies than I’ve won games of FIFA. That is all well and good (I’m crap at FIFA), but winning trophies isn’t all that history consists of, otherwise clubs like Lincoln City wouldn’t be so important to its fans. It wouldn’t matter, and Lincoln City matters.
Over the last year, and over the next twelve months as well I’ll continue to write about those key moments in our history, the players and matches that make up what we are. I’ll relive great games, defining moments and bring to life the characters of yesteryear. I’ll take great pleasure in reading about league cup wins against Newcastle, FA Cup ties against West Brom and end of season league games against Wycombe Wanderers.
I’ll probably do this for many years to come, pour over those crucial moments in history, and when I do there is no doubt in my mind one of the most vivid memories will be created tomorrow at Turf Moor. Tomorrow we know Lincoln City will create history, simply by being there and playing the game. Will we win? Who knows, but one thing is for sure: as Imps we’ll always remember Lincoln v Burnley in 2017.
This season, more than ever, memories have been created. After several stagnant and unremarkable seasons of filler, we’ve finally emerged from the shadows to flex our muscles in the football world. History is all about peaks and troughs, for every 1976 there is a 1978, for every 2003 there is a 2011. Our latest trough has been from 2008 to 2015, and we dropped off the scale in terms of how low we sank. Now we’re ascending a peak, now we’re competitive and a club fans can be proud of.
We’re creating memories that run quickly and concurrently in this fast paced season. Not a week goes by without a frsh memory, 3-2 at Forest Green, 3-2 against Oldham, Ipswich, etc. There’s barely a week of filler (Bromley 1-1 anyone?) and that makes it an exciting time to be a Lincoln fan. Remember the month we beat Barnet 5-0, Swindon 1-0 and Rochdale 7-1? Of course you do, and not just because I wrote about it earlier. You can remember the team, they key players and that becomes part of our history.
Remember the month we lost 3-2 to Bristol Rovers, drew 1-1 with Gateshead and lost 1-0 at Aldershot? No, of course not. You don’t create memories every day. You don’t add defining chapters to your history every day. You certainly don’t get to the FA Cup 5th round every day, when you’re Lincoln City you don’t even do it every 47450 days (that is 30 years in case you missed it).
So to all my fellow Imps, enjoy tomorrow. Enjoy making your memories, maybe you’ll watch it on the big screen at the ground, or at a mates house. Maybe you’ll be chatting to those mates in twenty years team recalling the day we played Burnley in the cup. Maybe you’re travelling to the game with your partner, and she is off shopping (or shoplifting) in Burnley. You’ll all have made arrangements I’m sure, you all want to see our moment, or one in a continuous collection of moments that get better and better as the season rolls on.
Me? I’m going to Turf Moor, and I’m sitting with my Dad and Mo. Lincoln City is all about that to me, and in the distant future I know I won’t be sat there with my old man anymore. I’m lucky, because my memory, my lifelong recollection of tomorrow’s game will be travelling with my Dad to watch the Imps in a historic match. Another brick will be put in place in that wall of history, another page will be written in the chronicles of who we are. Those players have made history by getting to the game, and perhaps if the gods are smiling on us, if this is our one game in a hundred where we match our opponents, perhaps we might just win. Maybe this isn’t the last page of the FA Cup story, maybe there’s one more still to flip over, one more page yet to be written.
It’s the magic of the cup, the magic of the wizards Cowley and the magic of football all rolled into one. It’s days like tomorrow that make Lincoln City the club they are, and it’s days like tomorrow that offer just reward for all those painful hours watching our club wallow in the mire. So wherever you are tomorrow, Burnley, Lincoln or South Africa make sure you sing loud, and most importantly sing proud. We’re Lincoln City, we’re on our way back.