Lee Frecklington has returned home with a view to pushing City up the table, but he is the one new arrival who already has a place in the Imps Hall of Fame. He came through the youth ranks under Keith Alexander, made his name under John Schofield and departed under Peter Jackson.
I spoke to Lee recently whilst doing my piece for #UTI, the club magazine. I asked him if he felt Danny and Nicky’s so-called ‘long ball’ style of football was like that played by Keith Alexander’s side 15 years ago.
“No, the style that Keith played is different to the style we play now. We do play more football than we did under Keith. Look, we just use our attributes extremely well and people don’t give us credit for the way that we are doing things. I think as we move up the leagues the style will adapt and change, but why change something that has brought success? A stat I heard today was two defeats in 46 games at Sincil Bank. Clearly, we’re doing something right. As long as you win football matches, it doesn’t really matter what style you play.”
Of course, style was one thing John Schofield had in abundance, his swashbuckling side of 2006/07 looked set to earn automatic promotion, possibly even more. A later season collapse put paid to that, but Lee still looks back on that time fondly.
“I absolutely loved playing in that team and the way John Schofield had us playing football. It was one of the most enjoyable times my career, he had us playing Total Football. We had a talented team and it was entertaining too. We were so disappointed how that season finished with the play off defeat to Bristol Rovers because we really felt we had an opportunity to do much better. We thought we could get to Wembley.”
However, when comparing the two, Lee thinks the current regime is set to achieve even more.
“What we’re doing now is maybe a greater achievement. We’re getting more fans through the door, there is a bigger buzz about the place and the expectation levels have been ramped up up massively. It’s a great Testament to the Cowley brothers. Our style of football is slightly different, but I don’t think there’s any specific way the you play football, the idea is you win football matches. The record than Cowley brothers have had in the couple of years has got to be up with the best the Lincoln have ever had.”
For the record, it is.
Of course, eventually Lee left Lincoln and, in my opinion, it was under a bit of a cloud. Peter Jackson, revered by some and reviled by others, farmed him out on loan to Peterborough United after the transfer window of 2009 closed shut. From there, Lincoln City crumbled and within two and half seasons, the trapdoor opened.
“At the time I was a little bit disappointed how things ended. I didn’t plan on leaving Lincoln but as you get older you get a bit more experience and you realise football doesn’t work out how you want it to. You just have to deal with situations as they arise, for me personally it was a blessing in disguise because I went to Peterborough, we got promoted and Lincoln got relegated.”
Being a Lincoln lad, Lee didn’t see himself laving at the time, but relegation still hurt him.
“I didn’t see myself leaving that quickly but having said that I did and thankfully everything worked out well for me. I was gutted when Lincoln got relegated though, when I left it was always the first club’s results that I looked out for. I was here from 11-years old and even after I left Lincoln was a massive part of my life. I still lived in Lincoln at the time as well, I was just as disappointed as most of the fans were. It really wasn’t a good time for the club.”
I really enjoyed my chat with Lee, he was very candid and honest and, in the full interview, he goes on to speak about the managers who have influenced him, what it is like to work under Steve Evans and his surprise at how quickly the Lincoln deal came about.
What I did notice about Lee was how polished he was with his answers. He uses a clever trick that some players are taught when being interviewed, he repeats the question before answering. I’ve been in seminars where you’re taught this as an interview technique, it gives you an opportunity to think, albeit for a couple of seconds, before you respond. Maybe it is just habit, maybe not, but I felt talking to Lee I was talking to a man who has ‘been there, done that’.
Don’t forget, you can read much more of this exclusive interview in the match day magazine, #UTI, available at the ground tomorrow. Genuinely, you won’t want to miss out.
All photos courtesy of Graham Burrell