So, I’ve done the transfer rumours, the what ifs and speculation, let us deal with two bits of bloody good news shall we?
First of all, Callum Howe. Massive congratulations to Callum on his new deal, I think we’ve managed to hang on to a really good centre half here. My feeling last season was that Callum was good enough for our first team, and only the extraordinary form of Messrs Waterfall and Raggett kept him on the bench.
Whenever he did get a run out I thought he looked more than competent, and over at Southport they loved the lad. In fact, having chatted to a couple of their fans, they went so far as to say had he stayed, they might have had a chance of staying up. Big words, but I can see what they mean.
I think we know Sean Raggett is on his way, it would take an unusual turn of events for him to still be an Imp in August, and therefore signing Callum back up for a year took on fresh importance. I still firmly believe Danny will be looking for another centre half of first team quality, but if that hunt proves difficult we’d go into the league season with two able defenders at the heart of our defence.
The second bit of news is us having sold 4,700 season tickets with five days left to go on renewals. That is a real signal of intent from the fans towards the club, and I imagine it will further strengthen Danny and Nicky’s resolve to take us as far as they can. I will boldly predict no other League Two club will sell as many STs as we have, and I would wager half of League One will sell fewer as well. This is an indication of the size of our club and the potential fan base we can tap into.
Let me try to throw some perspective on the fact we are guaranteed 5,000 fans for every game next season. When we were a League Two side and challenging for the play-offs we often struggled to reach that amount. On Saturday March 27th 2005 we played Kidderminster at Sincil Bank. We were 6th, in a play-off spot and challenging all the way. 4797 fans turned up for that game in total, 185 of which were visitors. On 10th April that year we beat Swansea 2-1 at the Bank to push up to 4th looking for automatic promotion, and that crucial end-of-season encounter attracted 5455 fans, with a surprisingly low 115 from Swansea. That game was a season-end crunch match, and we dragged just over 5,300 fans out for it.
Next season we could have that number as a starting point for all matches. Every game we play, the attendance will start with a five, if not a six. Every single game. Third tier support, of that there is no doubt.
In the 10 years or so since the Keith era, much has changed. The city has grown dramatically and that has brought with it fresh opportunities and new fans. It isn’t that we were less of a draw back then, the fact is we now have a far more open and hungry fan base who want to watch the games. Perhaps, just perhaps, social media helps. People are members of these banter pages and messageboards, they’ve seen ticket panic and they want to ensure they don’t miss out. The university undoubtedly helps and of course matches against Arsenal are the sort of jackpot that Bob Dorrian couldn’t have imagined hitting last season. All these factors add up to a remarkable situation whereby Lincoln City will be drawing more fans to their games than at any point in almost 40 years.
Please, revel in the news from today. It’s the first bit of news we’ve really had out of the club in a week, but it is an indication of what excitement we can expect next season.
(Apologies for the header picture, but if I’m subjected to that miserable scene whilst writing, I’m going to share the pain with you)