I don’t usually start with a video, but one year ago history was made. One year ago the bar was raised for Lincoln City fans and it hasn’t been dropped since.
We never expected to take Ipswich Town to a replay and we certainly didn’t expect to beat them at Sincil Bank. In Tom Lawrence they had a player a real quality that hurt us every time he had space in the first match. No, we didn’t expect to win the game but we came anyway, packing into a Sincil Bank that has barely been empty since.
After 89 minutes that few of us remember, we got one passage of play that will never, ever be forgotten. An Ipswich free kick is cleared by Alan Power and finds Adam Marriott. He sets off towards goal, never the quickest but determined to move the ball away from the danger area. Nathan Arnold overlaps as Marriott checks his run. He looks up, the rest is history.
One year on and we’ve reached heights nobody thought possible this time twelve months ago. We never thought we’d beat Brighton or Burnley, that we’d go to the Emirates as equals or that we would win the National League with two matches to spare. Who could have forecast us being in the promotion hunt yet again without having partaken in a few beers first? The only way I thought I’d see Lee Frecklington in the ground one year ago was if he came along as a guest of honour when Championship side Rotherham weren’t playing.
In fifty years time, this match will be remembered. Maybe Burnley will get more mentions, maybe the history books will show the result and an image of Nathan leaving Gerken looking like a gherkin as he gives us the win. That might be how history remembers it, but everyone else who was there will never, ever forget. When I’m asked about my favourite goal of the 2016/17 season, I choose this. When I’m asked about my favourite win of the 2016/17 moment, I choose this. It started here, the belief that we weren’t just evolving, we were taking off.
One year ago my father sat in the stands at Sincil Bank desperately hoping his side would win the match. Tragically, his mind was elsewhere. In Lincoln hospital, his older brother was losing his fight against illness after a short battle. Before the songs and celebrations had died down, he passed away surrounded by his family.
Every time I remember the joy of the win, the thrill of Arnold’s goal and the ecstasy that followed, I’ll also always remember my Uncle Jeff. I’m not going to be crass and claim he was a big Lincoln fan or that the win was for him, he wasn’t and it wasn’t. I’ll just have another major life event which I anchor using a game of football, two significantly contrasting emotions, forever tied up in one poetic moment of sheer beauty from Nathan Arnold.
So, wherever you are, cherish the video above and never forget that wonderful night in which we arrived in the nations consciousness. I won’t ever forget and, in doing that, I’ll always have the memory of my Uncle with me too. RIP.