After weeks of inactivity it has been breath-taking at Sincil Bank over the last seven days. There’s been new players arrive, new staff arrive and a glut of action that finally makes it feel like a proper pre-season.
There’s a few points I haven’t covered so I thought I’d look at the points of interest that I missed, starting with the news that the Coop Stand is now sold out for season tickets.
The figures came through slowly but surely. We rocketed up to 5000, then we crept up to 5300 before announcing there were just four left in the Coop Stand. Finally, last night we got the news that those of us with our seats secured wanted to hear. The Coop Stand had completely sold out, and not just that but the newly named Selenity Stand (the Lego brick) has just 200 left available for sale. We could theoretically sell out of season tickets. That is unheard of at our level and would surely set some sort of all-time precedent at Lincoln City.
Even on New Year’s Day we ‘only’ attracted 5148 to the Bank for our clash with Guiseley, so I think it really underlines the impact Ipswich, Burnley and Arsenal had on our level of support. Many have pointed to Oldham as a turning point, I certainly think that is where it started, but for the following game against Tranmere we had 6335 with 807 visitors, again putting us close to the 5500 mark. Now, as a starting point, we will have 6000 in the ground.
I’ve supported Lincoln City for 31 years, and despite moderate success in the Keith Alexander years, I’ve never known interest so high. Despite the play-offs that season, we hosted Manchester City in a pre-season friendly and ‘only’ got 6400 fans in for that game. Fast forward just over ten years and that number should be beaten every single week. It is astounding how the interest in the club has erupted, and whilst it brings some problems and tension, it also puts our club back on the map.
Those figures will bring their own issues, especially in the Coop Stand. The toileting facilities are inadequate in the Upper Tier, and the drinking facilities are non-existent in the lower tier. Whilst the stand was built to house approximately 5700 spectators, I would say it can only comfortably accommodate half of that figure. This season there will be queues for the loos, disgruntled lower tier supporters wanting drinks and upper tier supporters still queuing for theirs once the second half has started. It’s a nice problem, I didn’t enjoy being able to choose which block I had to myself, nor have the comfort of picking a urinal spot at my own leisure.
I wonder whether the club have thought about addressing these issues? Supporter satisfaction is important and never before will Sincil Bank see so many people on such a regular basis. The real key to continuing this impressive rate of growth is to ensure the 6000 odd ST and JIC regulars have an improved match day experience. That means watering the lower tier, and maybe speeding up the system for the upper tier
Anyway, whatever happens Lincoln City will be one of the best supported clubs in League Two at home and away, both visually and vocally. I’m always proud to be a Lincoln fan, not always proud of the current team or regime but always proud of my history and heritage. This season we have so much to look forward to, and those ever-increasing numbers have got our neighbours and rivals rattled. Fans don’t get you points, or so I’m told. Try telling that to Gateshead or Torquay, Solihull or North Ferrriby. Supporters make a big difference and we’re in the process of turning Sincil Bank into a fortress.
Next up, news of the ‘warm climate’ training has been announced. It’s going to be in Portugal where we’ll face a Benfica side as well as an as-yet unnamed team. This has been bubbling away for quite a while, and chatter has been rife about the two fixtures throughout the summer. I’d imagine the Benfica side will be their B team, perhaps less prestigious but certainly not to be sniffed at. Danny won’t be arranging showboat friendlies to make headlines, he’ll be testing his squad against teams, competing to win even a pre-season match up. Benfica are an illustrious name in European football, perhaps one of the best we will have lined up against outside of the UK.
The unnamed side has led to some speculation on social media. I would have some advice for people who are guessing, or those in the know who are cryptically revealing it. Probably best not to, eh? After all, if it was meant to be common knowledge we would have just announced it, clearly there is a reason we’re keeping it under wraps until very close to the day, and I’m sure we as fans wouldn’t want to be responsible for whatever issues might be caused by putting it in he public domain. Trust me, once we get out there and you see who it is you’ll understand why it’s been kept under wraps.
The trip will be a great chance to build the spirit in the camp, something I know gives us an extra edge. All of the new faces know someone in the squad, perhaps Ollie Palmer is the least ‘connected’ of them all and he’s no stranger to some of our lads. I’d fully expect one or two more to be announced before the planes touch down in Lisbon, and interestingly whilst we are out there, the Lincolnshire Cup tie with Gainsborough is set to take place. We are going to honour that tie, so whilst the first team squad are basking in the warm Portuguese sun, a group of youth players will be attempting to negotiate a tie with Dave Frecklington’s new-look Trinity side. I know which friendly I’d rather be at, but I know which one I’ll actually be at.
I wonder which of the two games Adam Marriott and Jack Muldoon will be at? I found it really interesting that the club tweeted a video of an Adam Marriott goal from training this week. Of the two I’d really like to see Adam stay, his technique and ability is, without a shadow of a doubt, Football League quality. With the greatest of respect to Jack Muldoon I think his chances would be extremely limited in the side this season, even in the second string that competes Checkatrade Trophy matches. Danny said in the press conference he wants to go with four strikers, so one more will come in. With Ollie Palmer, Matt Green and Matt Rhead we have three, so I’m not sure he expects either of the lads to sign.
I just think Adam Marriott has something different to your average player. He reminds me very much of Jamie Forrester when he came to City. Jamie didn’t have the legs anymore, but he adapted his game to keep himself one step ahead of the play. I think the serious injury Mazza suffered affected his pace, by his own admission he simply doesn’t have the explosion of speed that other players do. However, when you have the touch he has, the vision he has and the finishing ability that he has shown, you can effect games comfortably. If he’d been blessed with pace he would have taken on the Ipswich full back in the last-minute of the cup replay, but he didn’t. Instead he pirouetted on the ball and played the most sumptuous pass to grace Sincil Bank in my three decades of watching matches there. If he can continue to see those opportunities and adapt his game to compensate for his short comings there is no reason why he couldn’t play a role in our surge towards League One.
So that’s a round-up of the news that I’ve missed, most of it by choice. I don’t bring you everything, it’s never possible to beat social media to a story now, and I don’t want to simply repeat or regurgitate other people’s work. Away from the beautiful game you may recall me saying yesterday there would be no blog due to my spinal injection this morning. I’m glad to report that they went well, despite me arriving at hospital to find out ‘injection’ was actually plural. Still I’ve survived and now I’m being waited on hand and foot at home by my lovely partner whilst I try to prepare quizzes for the week ahead. Happy days.