Tonight I had the opportunity to not only attend the premiere of ‘Impossible Is Just An Opinion’, but I was honoured to grace the red carpet and mingle with the players and officials.
The film’s director, Sam Ashoo, ensured I was on the VIP list due to my help in fact checking the film. I managed to get a sneak preview too several weeks ago meaning I was one of the few who wasn’t watching it for the first time this evening.
Now before I continue I have to be honest about the evenings events. Due to a prior commitment I wasn’t actually able to stay for the screening. We have family staying this weekend, coming from such exotic places as Bedford and Carlisle, and it took my sweetest smiles just to get a pass out for the red carpet. I didn’t want to miss my chance to chat to he players and get some feedback from them on the event. I didn’t want to miss out on being there as a fan either, because that is what I am first and foremost. I returned home once everyone was in their seats to set about constructing my article.
Here’s the other thing; my Dictaphone is new, purchased in preparation for the new season and hopefully my increased media role. I’ve sat down to write the article and heartbreakingly I haven’t clicked the right button to save my interviews. 26 minutes of quotes and thoughts on the film all gone due to my own incompetence. You don’t get that with the Lincolnshire Echo, do you?
You would think that I’d be gutted, perhaps I should be. I’m not though, not entirely. It means I can’t give you the article I fully intended, that much I do regret. However, to have been a part of the evening, chatting to the boys and soaking up the atmosphere is something I will never forget, and I’ll still give you an overview as I can recall some of the best bits! (Note to self: get an app on my phone next time. If it’s good for Rob Makepeace then it is good for me.)
For the majority of my time milling around outside screen three I was speaking to sponsors, staff members and board members. I felt like I was watching a who’s who of Lincoln City mill past, some staff were eagerly beavering away making sure things were running smoothly, others were there in a non-official capacity. This was their evening as much as anyone’s, from Sarah the chef to Paul the steward, they all played a role in last season’s events and I think it was a nice touch from the club to ensure they were all there.
I began to get an idea of the scale of the event upon arrival. Taking over two screens at the Odeon would not have been cheap, and to those who felt it was another cash-cow to be milked I think they’re wrong. I don’t think the club made an awful lot from this event, I genuinely believe they wanted to create something memorable, something that may only happen once in a lifetime. They certainly managed it. There were plenty working hard to make the evening go smoothly, whether it was Jordan on the camera, Jake Longworth floating up and down the aisle or Ritchie sweet talking the sponsors and oozing calm.
One of the first players / staff through the door was Jimmy Walker, and as always he had time for everyone as he slowly jumped from person to person, posing for photos and answering questions. He had a few minutes for me too, we chatted about the new season and how great last season had been. That was really the flavour of most of the conversations I had, sadly it’s as much as you’ll find out about them too!
Michael Bostwick crept in early and through to his seat. It was good to see the lads there who did not play a part, but I didn’t grab him. I woke up the other night still hearing the Nottm Forest player almost break in two, and for one of my earliest media engagements I didn’t fancy being on the sharp end of a Bostwick challenge! I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but tonight was about last season and I think the fact he came in early without fanfare underlined that.
Most of the new faces came in first, without too much pomp. I grabbed Matt Green for a few minutes, he’s another really down to earth and articulate man. He underlined how it was nice to be there despite him not playing a role in the success, but he hoped to emulate it next season and fire us up League Two. He was followed by Josh Vickers and Jordan Maguire-Drew, he came prepared for bad weather in a puffa jacket, although I’m sure the holes in his jeans would have counteracted any protection offered from the rain!
Once the new faces were in their seats the assembled crowd was urged to disperse. The plan was for the players to come down the carpet one by one, each posing for a photo by the posters and then moving on to Jordan on the club’s iFollow video. I was lucky enough to speak to most of the boys before they got to Jordan, I was sure they’d be fed up with being asked how it felt to be on the red carpet if I went after!
One of the first players with us was Alex Woodyard, a man always ready to have a chat. Alex always makes me feel at ease, and although I don’t know many of the lads I have spoken to him before, and he always makes sure he has a few minutes for a chat. He spoke of his delight at getting a new deal and of course how unique it was to be on the red carpet.
Shortly after that Elliott Whitehouse confirmed my suspicions about being asked the same question too many times. As I asked him how it felt, he raised any eyebrow and chuckled. Clearly someone else had already posed the question, and with Jordan to go after me he had it to come again. How do the players even begin to answer? Yes, of course it’s unusual. How many National League / League Two footballers have a film made about them that then gets a red carpet premiere?
I had come up with what I thought was a clever question as well, I asked all the guys I spoke to who would play them if the movie was picked up by Hollywood. One or two of the lads clearly don’t watch many films, Raggs had an idea that he would probably have to play himself, and Josh Ginnelly looked almost shocked at being asked. Josh is a cracking lad though, he told me he was delighted to be back for a year and looking forward to getting stuck in this season.
Of all the new players he has perhaps had one of the more solid pre-seasons and he looks relaxed and confident. When Jordan pointed the clubs official camera at him he asked if it was live. He was told it was, and he looked towards me and pulled a face, still clasping on to his popcorn and drinks. For some reason it made me think of the class clown, the likeable rogue playing up to teachers and authority. I hadn’t spoken to Josh before, I imagine he has a wicked sense of humour though.
Callum Howe was certain who was going to play him, Sylvester Stallone. I’ve never noticed before but Callum is a bloody big lad, and he’s far more menacing close up and personal than I ever gave him credit for. Not long after Luke Waterfall approached, and he is as imposing as I always imagined. When I asked him who would play him in a Hollywood movie he chuckled and replied ‘I’m not sure there’s many six-foot five actors out there’. Sporting a stitched cut on his forehead, a pre-season war wound before a ball has been kicked in anger, I wonder exactly how a centre forward feels when he’s stood in their way. I wouldn’t want to try to get past him, that is for sure.
Then came Farms, the longest-serving player and the one man who has seen it all at Sincil Bank. He’s endured tough times as the Imps number one, and he was clearly loving the attention focused on him and the lads. I asked him who he would like to play if he were in a Hollywood movie (I switched it up a bit, all good reporters do that, although most good reporters know how to use a dicta) and he said ‘James Bond’ without even drawing breath. I tell you something about Farms, I’ve never seen him off the field without a smile on his face but I’m not sure the world is ready for a cheeky Geordie James Bond just yet.
I caught Harry Anderson too, he was looking forward to reliving some of the finer moments of last season. Again he was all smiles, but with three years in the bag and all the talent in the world why would he not be? Rather ambitiously I think he said that he would like Brad Pitt to play him, although that may be my memory playing tricks.
By now most of the lads were in, but I also caught Nathan Arnold as he became one of the last players up the carpet. As you know I’ve spoken to Nathan a bit recently and I have all the time in the world for him. As articulate as ever he explained how it was an honour to be watching the film on the big screen. He didn’t need to think twice about who would play him though, he didn’t even need to think once. Quicker than Paul Farman chose to be James Bond, Nathan Arnold had cast Denzil Washington in the lead role of his film.
Then, as the crowds cleared and the players went into the cinema, the two unofficial directors came up the carpet. Sam might have put the film together, but the action on the field was conducted by Danny and Nicky, and as ever they came along as a pair. When you see Danny in press conferences or giving interviews he is the manager, a man very certain of his direction and carrying an air of authority. Of course in press conferences Nicky is usually nowhere to be seen, preferring to take a back seat. Whenever I encounter them on a personal level though, I meet Dan and Nick not the Lincoln City managers but two guys I once met at a barbecue. They always greet me as if I’m an old friend, they both have a knack of making individuals feel as if they matter. They are easy to talk to, very open and of course very approachable. Even tonight Danny was doing the talking and Nicky was playing the strong silent role. Good cop, bad cop? Maybe. I don’t think the word ‘bad’ could ever be attached to these two guys.
Of all the quotes I lost, I did manage to store on in my memory because it struck a real chord with me. It came from Danny and his words were ‘wherever we go and whatever we do, we’ll always have last season and we’ll always have this night.’ Of course he wasn’t referring to any immediate moves, he meant that last season as a club we made memories, and tonight we had the once in a lifetime chance to sit back and see it on the big screen. He then said he’d like Tom Cruise to play him, and he turned to the strong silent one at the side of him who chuckled and said either Brad Pitt or Jason Statham The truth is about ten seconds earlier it had hit me that this wasn’t just Dan and Nick, two blokes I met at a barbecue last year, this was Danny and Nicky Cowley. I was chatting to the architects of my greatest season as an Imps fan, a pairing I believe will one day manage in the top flight, two incredibly driven and talented football men. Perhaps it is why I clicked the ‘off’ button before the ‘save’ button. Either that or I got carried away when Danny told me to message him for a chat with a view to doing a blog.
You see ultimately I am a Lincoln fan first and foremost. I’m giving this media lark a go, and I learned some basic lessons tonight I won’t ever forget. I was incredibly lucky to have the access I had and whilst half of the time I was ‘Gary Hutchinson from the Stacey West’, the other half of the time I was ‘Gary, the lad that grew up with pictures of Imps players on his wall’. Going forward I really must be a bit more professional, for your sake and mine. Tonight though, well tonight was something Gary the fan will never forget, and some Gary the journo will never be able to recall properly!
My thanks go to Sam Ashoo, I’m sure you’ll agree he did a superb job on the film. I knew Sam way back when he was a fifth former whom I drove over to the FA Cup matches against Telford and Northwich, and since he’s gone on to develop into an extremely talented young man with a massive future ahead of him working for Liverpool. He included me from the start of the DVD production, getting me on camera, asking me to fact check it and obviously giving me an advanced screening. More importantly he knows I’m a novice in the big bad world of media, and he made sure I got to stand out from the usual suspects by bringing Matt Green over to me and ensuring I had prime spots for access on the red carpet. So from me Sam, thank you. Unfortunately he couldn’t teach me how to use my Dictaphone, but I got a blog out of it anyway so all’s well that ends well, right?