In the excitement of the retained list being named, it had passed by many that Sean Long had signed a permanent deal with the club. There had been no Facebook live, no news headlines and no real fanfare. The right-back from Reading had quietly slipped through the door with no fuss to become the first of the loan players to join the Cowley revolution.
I wanted to make sure that Sean got a headline or two, so I caught up with him this week to welcome him officially to Sincil Bank.
“Thanks very much I’m delighted to be staying here permanently. Last season was an unbelievable experience. To be part of what the team achieved was brilliant and it’s something I’ll never forget.”
Sean started his career in Ireland with Cherry Orchard, and was snapped up by Reading four years ago. In August 2014 he made his Reading debut as a substitute in a 1-0 League Cup win over Scunthorpe, but that turned out to be his only appearance in a Royals shirt.
“Of course I was disappointed not to nail down my place in Readings first team. I managed to make my debut in a cup game against Scunthorpe but other than that I was only on the bench now and again. There has been a lot of changes over the years which maybe didn’t help however I’ve no bad feelings whatsoever. I met some great people there and learned so much as a player and wish them all the best in the future.”
As he wishes Reading well for the future, he now turns his attentions to a full season at Sincil Bank. Despite the move being conducted in a relatively low-key fashion, it was a no-brainer for Sean.
“There was a number of factors which made my mind up to stay here. The club is surrounded by really determined and ambitious people who want to achieve even more great things and I want to be a part of that. Also the support I witnessed from my time on loan blew me away. Lastly to get the chance to continue working with the Manager and Nick is something I couldn’t turn down. I’ve been with them awhile now they know me well and I feel they get the best out of me. I just want to keep learning.”
Sean made his City debut as a late sub at Portman Road as we drew 2-2, he got his first start a week later as we beat Gateshead in the FA Trophy 3-1, and finally he made his home league debut against Dover on January 20th to cap a busy fortnight. Following on from that he started 15 times with a further 4 as substitute as we secured the league title and a historic FA Cup run. It was his home debut that really stood out as a high point.
“A lot of people probably would have mentioned the FA Cup games (as a highlight) however for me my personal highlight of the season was making my home debut in the league against Dover. The Bank was buzzing and I felt I done quite well in a 2-0 win. Clean sheet was nice as well.”
Having now committed to the Imps for next season, Sean is keen to make sure we see the best version of him once we finally kick-off as a Football League team.
“I’ll be working hard as I always do in the off season to make sure I report back for pre season in good condition. From a footballing point of view first of all I’m a defender so my main job is to stop the opposition and keep clean sheets. I also want to be able to excite the fans by bombing forward and creating chances. “
He’s also certain that hard work will be reflected across the squad, as our ambitious young managers seek another successful campaign.
“As a team we will all come together in pre season and I’m sure Dan and Nick will continue their hard work to ensure we are ready for what I’m sure will be another memorable season.”
Whatever happens it would be incredibly hard to top the twelve months we have just had, and new recruits are going to be very important. There’s no Mansfield-style rush needed to drag players in quickly, but Sean represents the first of several new faces who will help shape our future endeavours. We ended our chat with a message from Sean for the fans, and it seems a fitting point to wrap up the article.
“To the fans of Lincoln. Firstly just to thank you for the support you have shown the team this season you were that 12th man on the pitch. Secondly for making me feel welcomed and part of the club. It was a bit under the radar but I’m delighted to be able to say I’m a Lincoln player. I hope I can help the team achieve even more success next year and look forward to seeing all of you at the bank next season. WE ARE GOING UP!!!”