Tomorrow we face arguably our biggest match at Sincil Bank in almost six years. Not since we needed to beat Aldershot in 2011 has so much ridden on the outcome of a single game, and although the result isn’t the be-all and end-all of the season, it is perhaps the psychological value of the win that will be as important as the three points.
Forest Green, and Christian Doidge in particular are in tremendous form, and if we’re being honest City look out-of-sorts and a little battle weary. We have those games in hand though, and win tomorrow would put us level with FGR but with a better goal difference. A draw would mean we’d still be playing catch up, but with three silver bullets waiting to be fired into the promotion race. Lose, well if we lose we have a mountain to climb, but our destiny would still be in our own hands.
Tomorrow isn’t about what songs we sing, nor is it about new fans or old fans. Tomorrow is about bringing this wonderful journey of a season towards a satisfactory and celebratory close.
Tomorrow is about the tale of two managers. One is the up and coming rising star, who along with his brother has turned the national spotlight on our under achieving side. This is a manager who has awoken a sleeping giant and captured the imagination of a whole city. On the other hand you have the manager that has done it all before, but now needs a result to add some kudos to a fading career. Mark Cooper was once up and coming, but now he’s slid back into the National League, and he needs to get the championship to satisfy his chairman’s lust for league football.
Tomorrow is about two owners, one loaded with money and not afraid to spend it in order to create his ideology through the medium of football. The other has been battered and abused during his tenure but now, alongside Clive Nates, Roger Bates and the rest of the board, he has seen his hard work pay off. Ours is a chairman who has not bought his way to the top, rather he’s gone the long way around and fought tooth and nail just to keep the red and white shirts on the backs of eleven players.
Tomorrow is about two teams, both having great seasons and both with strengths and weaknesses. Money may be one thing, but FGR have consistently been in the top part of the National League, and buying success is only possible if you can blend an effective team too. I’ve been critical of them in the past, but they’re still here pushing us every inch of the way, and they’re still winning games.
Tomorrow is about two talisman strikers, one (Doidge) with twenty two goals behind him and a run of scoring in six consecutive games. The other has just one in twenty two games, but he’s unplayable, charismatic and loves the big occasion. Their respective form will be crucial throughout the 90 minutes, and if Matt Rhead turns it on then we’ll be at the races from the first whistle.
Tomorrow is about two sets of fans, both hungry for the Football League but significantly different in numbers. Whilst it is easy to boast of our big crowds and excellent support, FGR are as well supported (if not better) when it comes to population density of their catchment area. They might be a village team, but that only heightens my respect for their travelling fans (both buses of them). On the other hand you have the most vocal and fervent supporters in the National League, often divided in opinion but always together in their support of their football team.
Tomorrow my friends, tomorrow is what it is all about. Tomorrow is a day where two sets of winners clash in a (almost) winner-takes-all match that will come to define a season, maybe even an era. When football was first invented and fans started flocking to matches, it was occasions like tomorrow they wanted to be at. It is occasions like tomorrow that you can tell your kids ‘I was there’, and they might tell their grand kids that their grand father was there. Do us proud on the pitch City, do us proud in the dugout Danny and Nicky, and do us proud in the stands. Ben Hutchinson was wrong all those years ago. We’re the best fans in the world and tomorrow we can be the difference between success and failure.
Tomorrow is what we live and breathe for as football fans. It’s one of those occasions that comes around once in a blue moon. We should be excited, nervous, apprehensive and confident al in equal measure. However, as I write this there is only one over-riding feeling for me. I’m shitting myself.