After a brief hiatus my guide to Sincil Bank returns for the final instalment. I’ve been taking a light-hearted look at the different fans and groups that returning or new (RON) fans might encounter at the Bank. We’ve got three-quarters of the way around the stadium, so this evening it is time to mop up the stragglers and look at a few of those peripheral figures you may not even notice.
First up there is a group of people you’ll not be able to identify by sight. They are as elusive and as shrouded in mystery as the illuminati or the freemasons. They lurk in the shadows, and they probably have some sort of special handshake to identify each other. They are (of course) the Moyses Mafia.
When Chris Moyses became manager he managed to break an age-old tradition, in that he was the first manager it was frowned upon to criticise. If Chris and the boys entered a slump on the pitch the silence could be deafening on social media. Any brave soul daring to speak out was swiftly put in their place. Soon the defamation of anything to do with Chris Moyses became a no-no, and the boys that policed it became known as the Moyses Mafia.
Nobody knew exactly who they were, it was known Chris had friends on the terraces, and those friends made it known they were in support of him. It became unfashionable to moan about the manager and the board for the first time in years. I once stuck up for Chris with a blog and I got labelled as a member of the mafia. was I a member? If I was I suspect I would have taken a code of silence anyway. To speak about it would have resulted in some form of punishment, like being banished to Gary Cook’s banter page.
Where are they now? They’re still out there, somewhere. They’re still protecting the legacy Chris left at the club, and rightly so. They’ll be quick to point out how he began this revolution, and they’ll ensure that he is rightly credited for his role.
Next up isn’t a fans group, nor are they elusive. They are not even people so to speak, they are Double M. They are the providers of sub standard food since time began (it seems), responsible for heartburn and faces twisted in horrified disgust for as long as I can remember. You’ll find their food outlets across the ground, often staffed by disinterested youngsters looking to earn a bit of pocket money. In exchange for ever-increasing amounts of your hard-earned cash, you too could be the ‘proud’ owner of two dry bits of bread sandwiching a gristle burger that isn’t even warm enough to make a cheese slice go slightly sticky at the edges. If you’re really lucky you could splash some watered down ketchup on there to help ease it down your throat, but if you want my advice don’t. Genuinely, starving is a more attractive option. I’m not sure I’ve ever had food as bad as ours at any other football ground, and I once ate one of Dale Vince’s lentil and dust pasties at Forest Green*
Moving on from the Coop stand, I’ve saved the very best until last. The final area of the ground I want to discuss with all the RON’s is my spiritual home, the end I talk about so fondly but never actually made it into this season. I am talking about the ‘home’ end for season after season, the infamous Clanford End, the Railway End, or as it is known these days; The Stacey West.
The stand itself isn’t all that awe-inspiring. It’s covered seating, granted but the views are average at best, and compared to the majesty and scale of the Coop stand it is no more than a typical lower league stand. It is however where the magic has happened for so many years for me. It was once home to the signing section who we’ll look at in a minute. It was once home to three generation of Hutchinson family and for many it will always have a special place in their hearts. I was born in the Clanford End (not literally. I was literally born in Lincoln County Hospital and until the tender age of seven I didn’t go to a football match) and I’ve remained there whenever I can, except this season.
The fan you usually find in there is one of two. The first type you’ll find is the sentimental fan, the fan who believes every home team should have a home end. They’re not bothered about acoustics or the view they get of the game, they are Clanford Enders, they are the Stacey West (left and right side) and they’re proud of it. So what if the Coop stand has great views, a bar and great acoustics? The Stacey West has less tiers so you get out quicker at the end of the game. The Stacey West has fantastic views of one of the goals.
They probably went in there with their Dad’s because it was a bit cheaper than the other stands. They probably climbed over a wall to get in during the 1970’s, they probably took their kids in there during the 1990’s before the whole Junior Red Imps thing became so lucrative for Dads (and Mums). Now it’s in their heart and soul, and now they’re allowed back they returned quicker than Ed Sheeran keeps returning to the top of the charts.
Once upon a time nothing was more satisfying than being unable to see 45 minutes of proceedings with any accuracy, only to find the 90th minute winner happening so close to you that you could reach out and touch the ball. On more than one occasion a stray shot from a rubbish striker (*ahem* Drewe) hit me in the face, and I almost enjoyed being a part of the action, if it wasn’t for the big red ring of sting on my chops. When you’re at the front of the Stacey West you’re so close you can smell the opposition keeper soil himself as Rheady goes up for a challenge with him. You can hear the crack of bones and you might even get sprayed with the blood from a defenders broken nose.
The second type of person in the Stacey West is a RON that didn’t commit to one of the hundreds of ticket schemes last season, and therefore ended up needing to pay on the gate. Those people don’t appreciate the romance and cultural significance of where they are, they are enforced Stacey West enders. They’re the sort of people who could go to Florence with all its rich history, steeped in tradition and magic, and find the nearest McDonalds or Irish Bar.
I remember once the Stacey West was home to a group of fans called the Passionistas. Anyone remembers those? Thought not. I seem to recall they were like the 617, just without the pyro and topless blokes conducting the singing. In fact they were just like the 617 but without the passion, so essentially they were just ‘istas’. They’re long gone now, they disappeared around the same time as Moses Swaibu. Maybe he stole them to have with his chicken and newspapers (which by the way is far tastier than a Double M burger).
There are other people lurking around the ground on a match day. If you feed the birds in your garden the same few types will always show up, but every so often you’ll be treated to something different and Sincil Bank is exactly the same. You might come across the odd Indie Kid at the ground, still sporting a Liam Gallagher 1996-esuqe hair cut and a pair of unbranded moccasins, swaggering his way around the ground like guitars and cool Britannia are still a thing. There is always a day tripper or two at a game sporting a brand new scarf so shiny and bright it could be used in the Daz doorstep challenge, commenting on how the big man up front isn’t a footballer and how much they admire Max Arnold. If you make your way into any of the toilet blocks around half time there is almost always the slight aroma of tobacco and a whole load of middle-aged men with the sheepish look of boys behind the bike sheds on their faces. the ones you really have to look out for have what looks like little dabs of tippex on their nostrils. I didn’t even know you could still get tippex, although I’m informed if you put it on a Double M’s burger it enriches the flavour of the bread.
All of this is policed by my final group of people in this little mini-series, the match day steward. Over the years I have to confess the standard of stewarding at the ground has really gone up. Once you could be greeted by a surly-looking, self-important dickhead with a in-built desire to feel better than you. For £13 he got to throw people out of the ground for swearing or being drunk, and by god it felt good. Woe betide him if you ever bumped into him in town though.
Nowadays I find most of the yellow jacket wearing gang friendly and approachable. I jumped over one against Macclesfield (not literally, I’m not Louis Smith) and later on he posed for a photo with me. There’s always one though, trust me. There will be one out there who has a hi-viz vest and a chip on his shoulder, just waiting to make his mark on your afternoon by dragging you out by the scruff of your neck and making you sit outside on dog pooh alley listening to the game develop. These days they are far fewer in numbers though, they’re swamped by genuinely decent blokes who just want to earn £20 in a relatively trouble-free environment. These days you’re more likely to get a Gaz Radford or a John Purdy marshalling your area, blokes just as happy in amongst the masses at an away game wearing the club colours as they are directing you on a match day at the Bank.
So there we have it, your three-part guide to all and sundry at Sincil Bank. I do hope you’ll find my little guide informative and useful, and I sincerely hope you weren’t offended or feel you’ve been singled out by it. In the coming weeks I’ll go through some of the heroes and villains of the club, but in the immediate future I’ll just be writing feel-good articles about promotion, being in the Football League and being Champions.
*I didn’t eat one of those vegetarian things, I just said that for the purpose of the article. I refuse to fund that hippy’s project in any way shape or form, and I won’t pay for someone to wrap a few plants up in plastic for me to eat. In order to replicate the taste and texture I actually took a bag of my old toenail clippings sprinkled on a bed of grass and tree bark and chewed on that through the game instead. Even that was better than a Double M burger.