You’re not better than the next man

I’m beginning to tire a little of the posts on social media which appear to be trying to isolate the influx of new fans as plastic, asking where they were last night for instance, despite over 1700 Imps making the trip. It’s been bubbling away ever since the FA Cup run last season and it’s time to put a stop to it.

I can see both sides of the coin, I sympathise with those who missed out on the big matches despite being at Carshalton away, or Welling away or whatever, but similarly I can celebrate the fact we have attracted new fans, and tempted back some older faces. It really is time for the one-upmanship to stop and for us all to get on with supporting our football club.

At this point I would go back over my own pedigree in a hypocritical analysis of my own time as a fan, but it is not relevant. Whether I was there in 1988, 1998 or 2011 is history, now is 2017 and now is the only time that matters. Money spent now supports the club now, and whilst those who were there in the dark times can take pride in sticking with their club, it isn’t a reason to look on disdain with those just finding Lincoln City.

One of the issues we have had over the last decade has been bums on seats, everything has been driven towards appealing to a new crowd. We desperately wanted fans to come to games as far back as 2009 when Steff Wright was putting impassioned pleas in the local media. The entire focus of the club was to attract new supporters, and yet now we have it has created a certain disharmony. Some might say ‘be careful what you wish for’, but I will raise a glass and say ‘it’s been a great ride so far, thanks for joining us’.

There are two types of fan, neither are ‘better’ than the other. There are the die-in-the-wool fans, those people for whom Lincoln City is a way of life. They will have attended their first game as a child and from there on they will have stuck with the club. They might move away, might not always be able to get to games, but being a fan isn’t always about being able to get to watch them play. If you move to Sussex for work and can’t travel to every match it doesn’t lessen the fact you’re an Imp. I like to think of myself in that category, Lincoln City is pretty much all I know about, and for me the thought of not supporting the club is as bad as the thought of not breathing. It is part of my life in the same way that my arms and legs are.

Then you have the fans that discover the club later in life, and that doesn’t make them less of a fan. It might be a chance viewing of the Oldham FA Cup game, it might be that they came to every match in the 1998 season as they were here at university, and now they’re coming back. It is this group that has attracted a certain amount of criticism, unduly in my eyes.

I want to tell you about one of my friends, because they perhaps fall into the latter category and yet I don’t class them as a plastic. Dave Adams was a kid I grew up with in Wragby, and through our teenage years we would go and watch Lincoln with a larger group of lads whenever we could. Life progressed, Dave moved away and I stuck with City. In truth I didn’t really see much of Dave, we took different paths through our twenties, and those paths only crossed on the odd occasion. Then, last season, I bumped into him at one of the evening matches before Christmas. Dave had come back to watch City having seen that we were playing well, and he was in a personal position to do so. He’d spent a year or two following Lincoln United home and away, but Sincil Bank was always close to his heart. We got our final strEight tickets together, we’ve got our season tickets together and we’re as close now as we were two decades ago.

Dave and I, although not at a game together. Curiously, despite my penchant for a selfie at football, I haven’t taken one of me and the big man.

Is he less of a fan because his life took him elsewhere? He’s thrown £300 at a season ticket, and trust me that isn’t a small sum of money for him nor me. Should he be chastised because he’s rediscovered Lincoln? You might ask where he was in 2011, but think back to 2011. If you weren’t one of those first types of fan I described, the masochist that thrives on watching bad football and feeling cheated every week, would you have paid to watch us? I was there because it is what my family have done for generations, but Dave’s parents weren’t City fans, he had no history of supporting the club, he just did. His money is the same as anyone else’s now.

Some of the LISA girls were new last season to the club as well, hooked after a couple of games and now part of a celebrated supporters group recognised by the FSF and championed in local media. Just because they discovered our club when the product was good, why should they be earmarked as different to all of us? They buy replica shirts, read this website and pay their entry fee, they’re the same as me in every respect, only they’ve not been doing it as long.

It’s okay to start shouting about taking 1700 to Rotherham when we have 5500 season ticket holders, but occasionally real life gets in the way. How many of that 1700 are going to Exeter? Would the 350 that travel down there be better fans just because they have the disposable income to do a ten-hour round trip and maybe stay over as well? Is being a Lincoln fan means tested? Those that were there last night got soaked, it was perhaps the worst August match in terms of conditions I’ve ever been to. The drive back was petrifying, I came along the M180 and Caistor High Street, and in places there was river-sized puddles spanning the entire road. Shouldn’t parents of children be forgiven for not dragging their offspring out in those conditions?

Some people do not have the means to go to every game, a season ticket might be the one luxury they can afford in a season. Why should they then be chastised for not travelling to Wycombe or Rotherham or wherever? I’m sure if we all had infinite time and infinite money we would love to attend all the games, but life isn’t that easy is it? I wonder if those who did question why we ‘only’ took 1700 last night were at Gateshead in the FA Trophy last season? There was 169 Imps there that day, were we better than all of those who didn’t travel? Of course not.

Supporting Lincoln City isn’t a competition, there should be no rivalry between all those wearing the red and white stripes. There’s a popular saying that goes ‘we’re all Imps, aren’t we?’ and I think that is really apt. Whether you’ve been coming one year, ten years or fifty years it shouldn’t matter. What is to say those new fans coming this season won’t stay with the club for generations? What is to say that this isn’t the start of us regularly attracting 10,000 fans, the start of our ascendency to the Championship in terms of numbers? These attendances are what we have aspired to ever since I first stepped onto the Railway End in 1987, there is nothing like a full Sincil Bank to get the heart pumping. We should celebrate our fans, all of them, and stop trying to separate the so-called loyal supporters from the new and returning faces.

16 Comments

  1. I totally agree with you,I’ve supported Lincoln City since 1975,when i was 15 & it cost 50p to get in !!! As you say life happens,things change,i can’t afford a season ticket,it’s a lot of money & because of work,i can’t get to every game,so i go when I can,I FELT CASTIGATED by people because I wanted tickets & couldn’t get them,as the season tickets got priority,as did someone else,who like me said it wasn’t viable to buy a season ticket,we were like second rate,slagged off,saying “It’s your own fault,you should have got a season ticket,it was made easy,by making it payable by instalments” Those peoplea are lucky they have the time & money to be able to do that,not all of us can,but according to them,if you haven’t got a season ticket,don’t moan because you can’t get tickets to matches,you’re a plastic ,part time supporter,so sod off,they consider themselves elitest & are alienating people like me,who over the years have supported the club,by buying memorabilia at auctions,going to games,home & away,joining social clubs,that have since been scrapped,yet I’m second rate according to them !!! I’d love to still attend matches,but may struggle to obtain ticket’s,but at the end of the day,it’doesn’t make me any less of a supporter !!!

  2. Well said Gary! Like you, I’m an Imp through and through but without the funds or the time to get to every game. I too braved the elements last night for that treacherous drive to Rotherham, but was unable to get to Wycombe on Saturday. Gutted, yes, of course. But to be vilified for it would be a knife to the heart. I personally think it is fantastic to see all the new and returning faces! I say behind a young girl of about 10 years of age last night and she was as fired up and as expressive as any fan in the stadium! To see her leap out of her seat at one of the atrocious decisions from the lino on the dugout side, shouting and gesticulating at him made me smile! A lifelong fan in the making for sure!
    Young or old, new or old….WE ARE IMPS!

  3. Agreed. This is something that should be celebrated rather than derided. Of course, the real irony is that everybody who is currently a Lincoln City fan has had to make that decision at some point; thus, there was a time when those fans who are currently disgruntled with ‘new fans’ were ‘new fans’ themselves.

    With regards to people’s whereabouts last night, circa 1,700 fans is an impressive turnout for a wet and windy first round Caribou Cup tie away against Rotherham, especially for a League 2 club (e.g. Blackburn Rovers only took 620 to Coventry last night). Fair enough, it’s not as good as Arsenal last season, but nor are Rotherham so you’re never going to attract the same crowds.

    P.S. I like the concept of the ‘Plastic Fan’ and think it would make for a good blog post.

  4. Couldn’t agree with you more. Just a shame you felt the need to write the article in the first place. When I go down with the Titanic, or whatever fate awaits me, I’d like to think there’ll be plenty more to take my place,
    Plastic fan marooned on a rock in the English Channel

  5. I could certainly be classed as one of the older faces (in more than one way!) tempted back. Being a City supporter was a way of life for me from 1963 right through to 1997 when I moved to South Wales to get married. Visits to Sincil Bank were out of the question then but I resolved to get to whatever away matches I could. However, that turned out to be rather half-hearted, with just four games seen in two seasons – partly due to financial and new family reasons, but also due to the fact that not wanting to be without a regular dose of football I increasingly began to watch my new local team (Merthyr Tydfil, now Merthyr Town) play at Southern League level. As time went on I got more and more involved with the Martyrs and only followed City at arms length over the Internet – didn’t see any City game at all (apart from one or two on TV) between the play-off final in 2005 and the game at Newport in 2012.
    What initially caused me to revert or relapse is from the beginning of this year becoming increasingly disenchanted with certain factions of Merthyr Town’s support, and while I could be accused of jumping on the bandwagon of City’s recent success, the fact is that having seen them play so often on TV last season (including three times in Merthyr’s clubhouse) plus once in person at Forest Green, has brought so much back to me, thinking ‘I should be there’.
    So, like I said, I’m now reverting, and entering fully into being a City supporter again, making an effort to go to as many games as are within reach and wishing I hadn’t renegaded over the last 19 years or so – although it’s difficult when you’ve been in the lifetime habit of going to football matches at least once a fortnight.

  6. Is their money plastic? No its as real as mine. Keep them coming up the imps. I don’t get the term “Plastic fan” As far as I’m concerned a fan is a fan.

  7. Absolutely right Gary – I agree with a lot of what you say every time I read one of your blogs, but in this instance I am moved to write to say how much I agree!! You are absolutely right!!

    I started watching the Imps in the late 60’s, going with my Dad as a kid – just to a few games. I was too young to fully understand but the Graham Taylor years happened to coincide with me being 13/14 years of age and I was hooked!! Attendances of 15,000, the volume of the crowd, the success, the media coverage, the pride of being part of a movement !!

    In other words I used to be a ‘plastic’ fan and converted to be a ‘proper’ fan when we had a successful team! If 10% of this years extra season ticket holders are still with us in 10 years time then this should be seen as a success not something to ridicule. If it hadn’t been for Graham Taylor and his success I probably wouldn’t be here now! In fact I canI confidently state that the reason I am a dedicated Imp is because we beat Doncaster 5-0 in March that year. That was my moment of conversion.

    We’re all Imps aren’t we is a great mantra – let’s all get on and enjoy the moment – let’s celebrate the extra numbers and welcome them with open arms – not ridicule or alienate them!

    We should celebrate and thanks those who pass the Welling test – but surely they in turn should celebrate all the new comers!

  8. I went to my first Imps game aged four and hated it. I never understood football and only ever watched England games out of patriotism. I lived almost 200 miles away from Lincoln and first began to understand the game when my son began to play. He stopped playing towards the end of his teenage years, but gained an interest in the Imps through family connections, as did my daughter. We began to spend more time in Kincaid and I went to a couple of games in Lincoln with one or the other. The Imps were struggling financially a d it looked like they might lose Sincil Bank, which seemed unthinkable. I began to follow the team online. Then the Cowleys arrived. Yes, my interest grew with each success, but so did my pride in Lincolnshire. Will I get to many games? I doubt it. Should I be classed as a loyal fan? Probably not. But should I be called a supporters? I think so because, whether my loyalty is visible to others or not I will now ALWAYS think of myself as an IMP!

  9. fully agree Gary with your comments, does it really matter whether the fan is a new “plastic” fan (a term which i don’t like by the way) or a seasoned follower, what matters is NOW. I, like alot of fans have followed City for many years, if fact come next month will see 50 years of support starting with a home tie to Newcastle September 1967, was I a “plastic” fan all those years ago? I suppose I was but certainly wasn’t treated as such. I seem to remember we were welcomed in with open arms. When I go through the turnstile and pay my money, is it any different to the guy behind me who has been supporting the club for just one season ? No its not , so what is the problem ? he may be young enough to give the club 50 years of support as well. We as a club and supporters should be welcoming these new fans to the family and make them feel as if they are part of it.
    As for season tickets, thats a no no for me, as well as lots of others who have to work some Saturdays, but then what chance have we got of getting tickets to the occasional away game when we not working?
    you have alot of good comments on here Gary but i have to admit I fully agree with your first one from Anthony Cash, he seems to talk a lot of sense

  10. A great article as ever. I first watched The Imps in the very late 50’s – only a couple of games- but that’s all it takes if it’s your home town. By the early 60’s I was living on the south Kent coast and only returning to Lincoln in school holidays, so only getting to watch a few home games. During college years saw a few away games in Lancashire area and thereafter work got in the way. However, I would bet that if you ask anyone from my peer group in my second home town they will all know which team I support. Now living in North Cyprus and only made one match last year – Arsenal (using an Arsenal supporters ticket) – but couldn’t misses being at such an event, the biggest of my lifetime. So am I a true supporter, I will argue the case with anyone that I am one of the fiercest Imp supporters, do I continue to the club, not much unfortunately. Do I jump up and down on a Saturday night after the results are available; absolutely. Do friends here look out for Imps results after their own, again absolutely. So welcome on board all you new Imps, enjoy the ride!

  11. A great article as ever. I first watched The Imps in the very late 50’s – only a couple of games- but that’s all it takes if it’s your home town. By the early 60’s I was living on the south Kent coast and only returning to Lincoln in school holidays, so only getting to watch a few home games. During college years saw a few away games in Lancashire area and thereafter work got in the way. However, I would bet that if you ask anyone from my peer group in my second home town they will all know which team I support. Now living in North Cyprus and only made one match last year – Arsenal (using an Arsenal supporters ticket) – but couldn’t misses being at such an event, the biggest of my lifetime. So am I a true supporter, I will argue the case with anyone that I am one of the fiercest Imp supporters, do I contribute to the club, not much unfortunately. Do I jump up and down on a Saturday night after the results are available; absolutely. Do friends here look out for Imps results after their own, again absolutely. So welcome on board all you new Imps, enjoy the ride!

  12. I am one of those returning faces. I had lost total interest in football generally until last season. Born and bred in Lincoln, watched City sat on the wall with my back to the pitch in the 70s up until the early 80s.
    I respect the fans that have a different view on the ‘new fan base’ but will state that since watching and following the club, whilst unable to get ticket for the higher profile games last season, travelled away to games including Boreham Wood and had a great time. Unfortunately I work away and cannot get to Rotherham mid week but would have done if at home last night.
    A well written and considered article. The test is of course when the volatility of football is adverse. I for one will be there.

  13. Valuable insight as always.

    All should be welcome and equally valued, ‘where were you when we were (cough) not very good’ should be left to the more mindless opposition supporters. I’ll clock up my 50 years (abw) supporting the Imps next year, but since leaving Lincoln straight after the 75/76 season, have lived in the NW since, so actual attendance at matches are rare, the early ’90’s in particular a bit of a black hole as child rearing took precedence and then the dross of the matches I took them to in the Beck years meant the critical period hoping to convert my sons to be ‘partners in crime’ was doomed.

    I do away games when I can, (including Nantwich last season) hadn’t managed to get to SB for a couple of years before being able to make the Torquay and Macc games. Does that make me ‘plastic’ and opportunistic? Nope, life (and deaths) got in the way, and I knew how to make the on-line ticketing work for me.

    We are all Imps indeed.

  14. I don’t think it is as black and white with the types of fans there are lots of shades of grey. I think a category you missed is those who have lived in there city and contendly ignored Lincoln throughout the lows, and supported a Leeds or a Liverpool. Now there are good times they are all over the club.

    I am delighted that there are new fans, if that is what they are, and it is great for our club and long may it continue. However I will never forget not being able to get an Arsenal ticket through the club due to huge demand. Yet two years prior the plea to save the club went unanswered while I was trying to get friends and work colleagues to chip in to the fund.

    Yeah I need to let it go but surely it is human nature? You help build something and worry over it and then have the door closed on you while the party starts with people who watched you struggle to keep it going and looked the other way get drunk on the success.

  15. Think this subject has been well and truly discussed. Maybe it should have a line drawn under it now? From a BPC Member—-Before plastic cards. We ARE ALLImps!!

  16. I moved to lincoln in 1971. I believe in supporting your local football team and became a lincoln fan, attending every match I possibly could. We applied for re election a few times around then and were probably dreadful, but still we went. Over the years as work and raising a family became more important I attended less games, I was still a supporter. The last ten years have been very difficult as a supporter of lincoln city we have been so bad on the pitch it became harder and harder to find the enthusiasm to attend. One point never touched on in any discussion regarding new and old fans is this, can you imagine how hard it is for someone who has supported city through the Taylor years, the |Colin murphy times, returning to the league straight away and of course the keith Alexander years, to then view performances the like of F.G.R. at home a couple of years ago. After that match I visited Sincil bank on very few occasions until of course this last season. I didnt go to the first two matches but the reports of the changes in playing style and in a new proffessional attitude meant I couldnt stay away. the rest is history. I am now more committed to lcfc than ever and if that makes me a plastic fan because i couldnt bear to watch the mighty (once)Imps fall so low then so be it. hopefully we are just at the start of a wonderful journey back to where we really should be and I would welcome all fans new, old, reclaimed and recycled down to Sincil bank. U. T. I.

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