Well according to most sources yes, apparently it is. Lincoln City are reported to have managed to attract a second League One captain to Sincil Bank in as many transfer windows. Michael Bostwick was coveted by a Championship club, last season Lee Frecklington captained one. It is fair to say that once again, if the reports are right, Danny Cowley has pulled it out of the bag and we’re not even halfway through the window yet.
For those of you who joined the Imps party late, Lee Frecklington is a former product of our youth set-up, a son of the city who went on to achieve relatively great things in the game. He was revered as our home-grown hero, blooded by Keith Alexander but shining through under Schoey. For those who have been around for a while, he’ll need no introduction.
In five years with the Imps he made 141 appearances, scoring 23 times. He loved to push forward from midfield, creating as many goals as he scored with tenacity and energy. He worked hard every time he pulled on a City shirt and his departure was always inevitable. He was our most saleable asset, horribly mismanaged by Peter Jackson during his reign as manager. He eventually left, days after the transfer window closed, for Peterborough United.
Since departing he’s played six seasons in the Championship, although in one of those (2012/13) he only played five times before leaving Posh for Rotherham. That move raised eyebrows, he was a player in the ascendency who dropped down to League Two, crucially to hook up with Steve Evans at Rotherham United. Clearly punching below his weight, he achieved second-tier football in consecutive seasons. He’s been with the Millers ever since, making 170 starts and scoring 34 goals. He’s their captain, their talisman and a player they believe they need to lead them out of League One and back to the Championship. Unfortunately for them, he’s rumoured to be back playing for Lincoln City.
How? Who knows. He shouldn’t be here and, as I understand it, we’ve even beaten the money of Mansfield to attract him back to the club, although Baron Greenback is in the process of trying to scupper the deal. Maybe it’s the lure of a return home, maybe it’s the chance to work with Danny and Nicky, but the truth is Lee Frecklington is not a League Two quality player. He might well be 32, but he has good years left in him yet. I imagine he sees himself as having unfinished business here, he lives locally too which may have influenced his decision.
There’s also one in the eye for our tubby friend from Mansfield too. I imagine he thought he could throw money at Freck and convince him to join his somewhat flawed revolution over at Field Mill. Sorry Steve, some things money can’t buy you. I hear you’ve been banging your head against the wall for the past few days, someone best get a message to the Mansfield Town caretaker to reinforce the wall because there’s more Evans noggin on its way. Lee Frecklington has class, he has a genuine bond with the fans who never got to say goodbye properly and he is coming home to where he belongs. He’s one of our own. He stood on these terraces as a kid singing the names of players such as Lee Thopre and, all being well, it is his name the next generation will be shouting out in 2018.
Despite the rumours starting a few months ago, I never wholly believed we could pull something like this off. This is a Championship quality central midfielder we’re in for, forget for a moment it is Lee Frecklington. Forget he has an affinity to the club and that most of us know at least one member of his family. He’s played five full seasons in the second tier, he’s scored against Derby, Middlesbrough, Leeds and Hull in the last couple of years and he has even made 20 appearances for Rotherham this season. Their fans didn’t believe for one second he’d drop down to League Two, they’re convinced he is League One quality or higher. They believe their upturn in fortunes this season coincided with him returning to full fitness. There will be a lot of devastated Millers when this is announced, if indeed it is being reported correctly. I suppose they’ll be even more gutted when the word ‘undisclosed’ appears next to the transfer. They’ll be hoping for £100,000, Evans will tell everyone it is £500,000 and most likely, for a player out of contract at the end of the season, it will be £50k. Whatever has happened, however we’ve pulled it off, this is a transfer coup of epic proportions and it might just solve our defensive ‘crisis’ too.
Lee Frecklington is a midfielder, meaning he can play alongside Alex Woodyard in the centre of the park. That frees up Michael Bostwick to drop in at centre-half and cover for the absent Sean Raggett, as he did with style last night. Contrary to popular belief, Bostwick hasn’t refused to play in defence, nor did it influence his move here. He’s a no-nonsense professional who will do the best he can for the team and now we’ve attracted another fine midfield player to the squad, he’ll do what is needed to succeed. I imagine both him and Freck will have an eye on promotion and their experience, along with that of Neal Eardley, is going to be invaluable as we move into the second half of the season.
On November 24th 2007, Lee Frecklington grabbed a 75th minute winner against Notts County at Sincil Bank, I wonder what price you’d get on the returning hero doing exactly the same thing on Saturday? More importantly, despite earning promotions with Peterborough and Rotherham and playing in two play-off semi-finals with City, he never saw a promotion with his hometown club. He’s got unfinished business, he’s got ‘something he needs to do’ before his playing career comes to and end. He’s here to win promotion, he’s here to write himself a little slice of history and most of all; he’s here to thrill and excite the fans once again.
If anyone thought we were net losers in the transfer market, think again. If this is the calibre of signings, if this is the benchmark by which we now recruit, it is still going to be an exciting January despite what the doubters say. Hold on to your hats Imps, the boy wonder is coming back and he’s all grown up!
Today’s photographs have all come courtesy of Graham Burrell. You can see more of his work in the excellent ‘Imperfect Focus’, a book for life and not just for Christmas.
We still have a few copies left, they can be bought by clicking on the link below.