The Imps longest-serving player, keeper Paul Farman, had quite a season in 2016/17. Whether it was helping the side to the National League title or keeping goal against the might of Arsenal, it is one he’ll never forget.
Things change very quickly in football and after a handful of games this season he found himself rested, with Josh Vickers taking his place. Since then, Paul’s played in the Checkatrade Trophy. The clean sheet against Rochdale came after a topsy-turvy match against Accrington in which he appeared to go from villain to hero in double-quick time.
“It’s a great strike from the lad (Sean McConville),” Farms told me in a recent chat. “I touched it on the bar, it hits my leg as I’ve landed and goes in. When I was needed in the second half, I managed to pull of some saves towards the end. As a keeper, you thrive on make big saves that can win games, but that is what you work hard for, for those moments. I felt good after the game, you have to enjoy every game because you never know when it could be your last.”
Indeed, for Farms it might seem as though chances are limited, especially as Josh has been in fine form. Coming off the back of such an electric season last time, he has felt it difficult being on the side lines this term.
You graft all week to play, to get that buzz and that adrenaline, that sore feeling on a Sunday or a Wednesday. I have missed it, I’m not going to lie.
“It’s been tough after doing a full season last year, especially spending the last quarter of it injured. At my age, which people still say is young for a keeper, I want to be playing. You graft all week to play, to get that buzz and that adrenaline, that sore feeling on a Sunday or a Wednesday. I have missed it, I’m not going to lie. I always train hard, it is a footballers job. If you’re not training hard then where do you go from League Two? You always have to aim high to play at the highest level you can. When I walk off the training pitch I like to feel I have bettered myself someway or another. If I feel I haven’t I will simply do more!! If Jim lets me!! Less is more and all that!!”
Despite the positivity around hard work, it has still been tough watching the team he’s served so well from the stands.
“It’s been very tough to come out. As it’s my first year in the Football League and after a long season last year maybe some keepers might be happy to sit on the bench and train, just stay fit and play the one-off games every now and then. I am not like that, I had to work incredibly hard to get myself in the Football League, so I want to play as many games as I can in it.”
He’s still happy to see Josh doing well, as he is the rest of the side.
“It’s good to see any player, in any position doing well in a game. It is good because at end of the day we are all pulling in one direction.”
With limited game time, some might feel the pressure of being dropped in every so often. If Josh makes a slip on a Saturday, he can rectify it with a save on a Tuesday. If Farms makes a slip in a Checkatrade game, it could be six weeks before he gets a chance to make up for it. At least that is how I thought it was, but not the likeable Geordie with over 200 Imps appearances to his name.
“I am 100% confident. I am training hard as if I am playing so when I am called upon I am ready and feel sharp. When I was younger and was only playing reserve games every so often I would have felt the pressure, but as you get older you just have to play your game, not try anything different like force counter attacks or try to play out when it isn’t on. You have to play the game that is one thing the Gaffer and Nick have instilled in me, especially last year. It’s all about game management, when to go quick and when not too. Game management is a big part of the game.
With us sat right in the middle of silly season, I wondered if Farms had been tempted by offers or thoughts of moving out on loan. As expected, he was reticent with his answer, revealing instead the banter between the players during this hectic period.
“I just have to keep doing what I am doing day in day out. I take each day and game as it comes come. As for January, I have never been in a squad when it has unsettled things. We all joke about sitting by the phone waiting for a Premier League team to call!”
Yes, with what we have and we are only going to add players in this window, I do believe we have what it takes.
Whilst their might not be many Premier League teams calling, League One sides might be looking at the Cowley revolution and wondering if there is a gem to be found. Farms is confident that the journey still has some way to go.
“As people can see we do have a good bunch of lads all putting the team first and willing to graft everyday to make us better. Yes, with what we have and we are only going to add players in this window, I do believe we have what it takes (to get promotion).
I really enjoyed chatting to Farms, whilst it must be tough being out of the side he always seems positive and has a smile on his face. These answers weren’t gleaned from sitting around a table in the media glare, it came from a chat whilst he was relaxing and off guard. His answer weren’t ‘scripted’, they were from the heart. You can tell not being in the side is tough, but Farms didn’t try to gloss over it or dress it up any other way. For him alone, I hope we get to the Checktrade Trophy final and he keeps goal at Wembley because, after so much solid service to City, he deserves the accolade as much as anyone.