The rumours flying around this afternoon are heavily linking FA Cup Hero Theo Robinson with a return to Lincoln City.
It’s come as quite a surprise, the second in 24 hours given the exit of Rob Dickie, but nonetheless is has got Imps fans talking. Theo divided opinion whilst here last season and any return would once again polarize fans.
The facts are these: 28 year-old Theo joined us as a free agent, banged in eye-catching goals in our record-breaking FA Cup run before departing on deadline day to Southend. The Shrimpers even paid us a fee despite him being on non-contract terms because their approach came too late on in the day. His departure was listened to intently by fans on Radio Lincolnshire as they broadcast live from Solihull Moors.
This season he’s appeared 21 times for Southend, almost exclusively from the bench, although he’s scored twice in the Checkatrade Trophy. Along with strike partner Nile Ranger he’s been deemed ‘surplus’ by manager Phil Brown and is now set for a sensational return to the Imps.
Last season, we should never have had Theo Robinson in our side. A regular in the Championship at one stage of his career, as he approached 28 he should have been in his prime. Instead, an unfortunate set of circumstances led to him being without a club and he sought refuge at Sincil Bank. He wanted to rebuild his reputation and get some game time, we wanted to win football matches. It was a mutually beneficial relationship, but neither party realised how beneficial it might be.
Before I continue we did get two Theo Robinsons. The first was a hard-working striker in the league campaign who often failed to achieve his potential. He chased and harassed defenders, but his finishing was sometimes amiss and he was caught offside often. He was a good player in the league, but not outstanding. His work rate was never questioned though, he would run himself into the ground for the cause. There is a fallacy that he only turned up for cup games and that simply isn’t true.
As soon as those TV cameras were rolling though he transformed into an absolute monster of a player. Maybe it was playing against proper defenders instead of the non-league hatchet men, but in the FA Cup he excelled significantly more than most. He scored against Guiseley and then bagged a superb brace as we put Oldham to the sword. Then, perhaps his finest hour. Portman Road was the scene of a powerful and commanding centre forward display from Theo. He scored twice as the lines between Championship and National League blurred.
Often, the Ipswich ties are remembered for Nathan’s superb winner. At the end of season awards dinner there was a VT running, but Theo had been omitted from the show. Perhaps that was right, after all he did move on and leave us a little short for a while. However, after his Ipswich goals he stepped up again with a fine goal as we put Brighton (pictured top) out of the cup at the third-round stage.
By the time, we steamed into Turf Moor he had the move he’d always craved. Southend came in for him as we were playing Solihull, and whilst Jack Muldoon was scoring on the pitch, Theo Robinson was in the stands torn between the Imps and League One Southend. Despite on-field negotiations as the deadline loomed, he eventually chose to move up the leagues. Nobody could blame him, he’d done what he came to Lincoln to do, and we benefitted from his tenure as an Imp.
Danny gave a passionate interview after the game in which I thought, for the first time, he let that unnerving mask of neutrality slip. Whenever he discusses players, transfers and the like Danny is always very hard to read, but that night on the sidelines at Solihull Moors he had emotion in his voice. Many took it as anger that we were losing Theo because of financial reasons, but it may well have been upset that a key component of the National league squad was departing and we couldn’t do a thing about it.
Whatever the reasons, if the rumours are true, we will be getting a good player albeit not one I expect to start matches. His energy and pace will frighten defenders much more if it comes on after sixty minutes of Matt Rhead battering defenders. I appreciate many fans will look at this and suspect we’re not getting it our own way in the transfer market, after all they’re talking about Miller and Doidge. That’s all well and good if you’ve got £200,000 for Miller or £1m for Doidge, but we have not. Besides, with Theo there is no due diligence required. We know him, he knows us and crucially Danny knows exactly what he is getting.
It might not be the marquee signing that many hope for, but it would be a good solid acquisition of a consistent and hard-working player.