The trip to Luton marked the final Lincoln appearance of Sean Raggett. despite there being a slim chance of him returning to the club, it does appear very unlikely as he is destined for bigger and better things.
When we initially signed Sean from Dover ahead of last season it was a real coup. Barrow were after his signature and a last-minute phone call diverted him to Lincoln for a look around. The story goes that young Sean was driving up north with his agent, and a Lincoln City representative got wind of the situation. I understand a call was made to ‘come and have a chat’ on his way up the A1, and history shows his journey never progressed further than Newark. The lack of training ground didn’t put him off and for once the official club reveal beat social media to breaking the news.
He was a cornerstone of our success last season, an integral part of a tight defence but also of our threat from set pieces. He rapidly became a City hero, a player who could always be relied upon to perform to a high standard. One thing that always struck me about Sean was how much it mattered to him. I remember how crestfallen he looked after being sent off against Wrexham, he was genuinely upset at having let the team down. Of course letting Lincoln City down was not something Sean Raggett did very often at all.
As the season wore on, everyone at Sincil Bank knew what capability the youngster had. When Dover visited shortly after we turned Ipswich over, their fans were full of bile before the game. I spoke to some Dover fans who claimed he’d let them and his team mates down by moving on. He hadn’t, he could have got out of Crabble much earlier than he did, but he stayed until he simply became too big for them. In truth, he was probably too big for us too, how a Football league club didn’t take a punt on him I’ll never know.
Before long, the cat was out of the bag and his reputation spread beyond Lincoln. I suppose it helped him heading in a last-minute winner against Premier League Burnley, making history by sending City to an FA Cup quarter-final. Suddenly his name was all over the papers, not just nationally but internationally. With that comes interest from scouts but I’m told Norwich had been watching him since we’d beaten Ipswich. Even then, we all knew Sean Raggett would move on at some point.
When the summer came the speculation intensified and eventually Norwich did make their move. However, instead of being swept away to their reserve side, he came back for another six months to help propel us to 3rd in the League Two table at New Year. His goal scoring threat never subsided, grabbing the winner at Swindon and against Accrington in the Checkatrade Trophy proved that. No, Sean Raggett simply got better, effortlessly stepping up from marshalling part-time centre forwards to looking after seasoned professionals.
As January loomed we all hoped he’d stay until the end of the season, but I think a return is highly unlikely now. He posted on social media ‘goodbye Lincoln’ and Norwich manager Daniel Farkas has spoken of ‘working with Sean’ upon his return. Bradford City have sniffed around too, they’d love him to help them in League One, but all of the interest effectively makes it very hard for Lincoln City to compete.
Sean owes us nothing and if he ends up on loan at Bradford, fair play to him. He need regular football for sure, but he’s good enough for League One. I think he’s perhaps not ready for Championship football just yet, but he’ll only improve by playing at a higher level than ours. I know many will disagree, but I’m afraid it is the truth. No, Sean Raggett’s journey has led him away from Sincil Bank and he now needs to take the next step on his journey.
History will remember Sean for a number of reasons, Burnley, Forest Green, even Swindon this season. Each of us will have a favourite Sean Raggett moment, inevitably his winner at the New Lawn of at Turf Moor, but he’s been so much more than a target at set pieces. He reads the game superbly, he tackles ferociously and he has the potential to grow into a fine centre half. Comparisons with Trevor Peake are inevitable, joining us from non-league before making a move further up the league and whilst many will say he’s not as good as Peake, others might consider him to be takin a similar path.
The world is at Sean Raggett’s feet, with hard work and a little bit of luck he’ll be playing top-flight football in the next couple of seasons. We should feel honoured to have been part of that journey and proud that we were able to aid his development sufficiently for him to return this season and help us. Someone said on social media that they’ve rarely seen a player leave with such an enormous amount of goodwill and I’m inclined to agree with that. Then again, when you’ve headed home a winner in an FA Cup Fifth Round tie to send a non-league club to a quarter-final, you do tend to build up a bit of goodwill.
All the best Sean, good luck in your career. You’re a great defender and an even better personality and I’m sure you’ll be a roaring success wherever you play your football.