The day after Swindon

It’s been quite an interesting 24 hours for Imps fans, coming home from the game yesterday I thought there might be some fall out, but that would be understating it somewhat.

I do my best to avoid social media immediately after a game these days, for a couple of reasons. I tend to reply before I think, certainly if I see something deliberately provocative. There’s an awful lot of people who take great delight in ‘fishing’ for ‘bites’, basically saying incredibly dumb stuff and then pretending they didn’t mean it when someone argues back. It’s a pastime of sorts, but one I’m not keen to become embroiled in.

There’s also some genuine opinion which I don’t agree with and given that I’ve been out all day on a Saturday and then come home and done an article, the last thing I want to do is spend the rest of my evening debating the same point over and over. Last night I settled down to watch Kingsmen – Golden Circle and hoped to go to bed without too much incident. I briefly opened up Facebook to see what was being said, it is fair to say I was horrified.

It seems as though the entire social media spectrum was being used for arguing over our 2-2 draw. I saw Alan Long being torn apart, I saw some incredibly offensive posts which, because they were labelled as ‘banter’, were apparently acceptable. I know some of the admins on these sites had a tough time trying to police an ever-increasing whirlwind of abusive posts and contrasting arguments. Nobody will concede their arguments are flawed, from either side. Once again, an Imps draw sees gaping chasms open up between fans.

The obvious talking point was the two goals we conceded, both of which have been either a: laid at the feet of a so-called inept keeper who is out of his depth or b: are the result of team failings causing said keeper, an Imps legend, to become a scapegoat.

At the time, I saw the first goal from the other end of the pitch and completely missed the second. I defended Farms because I don’t ever believe picking a scapegoat is the right thing to do, not during a game at least. Posts from individuals saying he should be taken off and never play for the club again were, frankly, ridiculous. However, I also believe that simply being long-serving and part of last season’s side should not grant you complete immunity from scrutiny. There’s a balance there though, a middle ground which it seems hard for people to occupy. Of course, if the goals were the keeper’s fault then that must be a point we can discuss, but we must always do it respectfully. You see, being part of last season’s side may not grant you that immunity from criticism, but it should grant you a level of respect that some fans did not afford him last night.

I’ve now watched both goals and I’m happy for people to shout me down for my opinions although if you do so, I’ll just ignore you. Debate? Yes. Anger, vitriol and stupidity? I’ll be reaching for the ‘block’ button.

I’m not convinced the first goal is a keeper’s error alone, in fact I’m not even attributing 50% of blame at Farman’s door. I’ve seen Swindon move from their own defence to a shooting position just outside the eighteen yard box in one pass and three seconds. We were meant to be playing three in midfield, yet Ollie Banks has fired a looping shot at goal unchallenged. I believe Paul Farman has pulled off a decent save, not because I like him or because I want to protect him, because that is what I see when I watch the video. It’s curling, looping and I believe he does well to parry it away. Then, their centre forward reacts quicker than two of our players and slots the ball home. If you’re playing FIFA, immediately after the goal goes in Martin Tyler will say something like “the defence have let their keeper down there.”

I’ve posted it, please, watch it again. 45 to 56 seconds, watch the spin on the ball as it flies towards goal. Anyone who has played in goal knows the first thing a keeper must do is save the shot, try to parry it from danger. Catching it is not the priority, stopping it going in is the sole purpose of a keeper being there. The way the ball loops over the back four makes it hard to do anything with, other than parry it away. In my opinion, Paul Farman is not to blame for that goal, just as he wasn’t to blame Tuesday evening for a virtual carbon copy. Once he has parried a shot, a centre forward should not be reacting quickest in the eighteen yard area.

As for the second, they take out our entire three-man midfield with two passes. Firstly Alex and Bozzie are chasing the same ball and both get caught flat. The run Ollie Banks makes isn’t tracked, he comes from behind Freck and leaves him chasing shadows. The referee doesn’t help be impeding Freck, but Banks then has three touches, moving closer to the penalty area with each one. The two centre halves both back off and let him come at them. Six weeks ago, Raggs comes forward to win the challenge whilst Luke mops up, but Wilson and Waterfall don’t know each other’s game yet. Personally I thought perhaps Luke should have stepped forward, but in truth the shot shouldn’t have come in at all.

Yes, when it does Paul Farman deals with it badly. That is the mark of a keeper who is low on confidence. I can’t think why he would be, not after he was abused at Barnet for their goal (not his fault), or against Newport on Tuesday (not his fault). Why on earth would he be edgy and nervous when every goal we concede he is blamed for, but any saves he makes are ignored? All of those fans calling him out last night, not one of them praised him for his world-class save with the scores 0-0 against Peterborough, or his fantastic reactionary double save in the last seconds of the Accrington win. I suppose when he does well it doesn’t make a good anger-filled post does it? After all, we need a scapegoat, do we not?

I try not to be too critical of players when I feel they don’t deserve it. I wasn’t critical of Tom Champion because he received some very poor treatment when he first arrived. I firmly believe his spell here didn’t work out because he lost confidence after the first match and that was that. We drew 0-0 with Solihull Moors after winning three on the bounce and everyone blamed Tom Champion. from there he couldn’t do anything right and his spell went down the pan.

What some fans seem to forget is the players are only human and what they say affects them. Perhaps players shouldn’t be on the ‘banter’ sites, most aren’t, but what is banter anyway? Is it just a name for an allowed form of bullying? Is it just a label we give to a form of abuse that makes it okay? I once had a chat with a teacher friend of mine, one you might know actually, and he told me the pupils at his school would say the most awful things to each other, but when he pulled them up on it they’d go “it was just banter sir.” We didn’t have banter in my day, we had bullies and arseholes. Whatever ‘banter’ is, my understanding is that it is a two-way thing. You call your mate a nob, he posts pictures of you in bed with another man, that sort of stuff. Two-way abuse in which both parties enter willingly. In my mind, abusing a player on an internet page he doesn’t see and calling it ‘banter’ isn’t banter at all. It is actually quite cowardly.

I believe you should have the right to express an opinion and I firmly believe that simply having been here and achieved promotion shouldn’t entirely exclude you from negative comments. Football is a sport of opinion and judgement. As fans we support the club and therefore earn the right to have our say. However, those players give blood, sweat and tears for this club. Last season they gave us memories that won’t just last our lifetime, but will be written about and remembered for years after we’re gone. That man some of you were so mercilessly hammering in the ground and on social media, the keeper whose fault you thought the goals were, he got man of the match at the Emirates Stadium less than 12 months ago. We cheered him off, YOU cheered him off. This wasn’t against Solihull Moors or Boreham Wood, it was Arsenal and that came after Brighton, Burnley, Ipswich and Oldham, none of which are non-league clubs. Apparently he is (and I quote) ‘not good enough’ for League Two, but he won man of the match in a game that also featured Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Matt Rhead. That doesn’t exclude him from criticism, but my opinion is it earns him respect, something he was ill-afforded during last night’s feeding frenzy. He’ll be the first to hold his hands up and confess he could have done better with the second goal, of that I have no doubt.

Last season we replaced Paul Farman for a crucial semi-final match and we lost 2-1. Ross Etheridge, in my opinion, was to blame for one of those goals, if not both. Those goals cost us our first ever trip to Wembley, conceded by a loan keeper who was unfamiliar with our defence. In 2011, loan goal keepers conspired to see us relegated, one because his club recalled him and the other because he was simply not good enough. The truth is, looking back over the last decade, I can only think of one loan keeper who came in and did not let us down, who made such an impact that we were delighted when he signed permanently. Now, over 200 appearances later, that same keeper is suffering a crisis of confidence, brought on partly because whenever he concedes a goal, the remainder of the game he has to endure ironic cheers and ‘banter’ from his own supporters. Paul Farman isn’t a bad keeper but if some of our own ‘fans’ keep treating him like a pariah whenever the opposition score, he’s never going to regain his confidence.

Think before you type and post, please.

19 Comments

  1. Completely agree with this, a certain member on the ‘banter’ site was saying Allsop would be going straight into the starting 11 and thats it for Farmen, does he know something none of us do? Is he Dannys right hand man? No. At 5 past 5 saturday evening the same person was slating Farman when he’d barely left the pitch! Giving it the ‘I told you so’ it makes my piss boil! Im sick of so called fans at the moment, potential signings could be put off by these people and no wonder he’s suffering with confidence after some of the things I’ve read. Ive had to take myself off the banter site for the time being as its so full of shite its un real! People need abit of perspective and maybe a fist to the mouth 😉

  2. Agree wholeheartedly although I’m not sure Paul Farman is suffering from a loss of confidence. Perhaps you’ve talked to him? The real defensive frailty was in front of him. I’m obviously not privy to any Swindon banter site but I find it hard to believe their keeper is being eviscerated in quite the same way, despite gifting the Imps with a goal that deprived his team of two points (it was an own goal, surely).

  3. If it is good enough for Danny when interviewed not to single out ANY player for criticism after the game it should be good enough for everyone. We are not Mansfield, FGR managed by individuals who openly lay the blame for defeat at the feet or hands of an individual, and doubtless our squad are thankful of that. When I left the game yesterday several people were vitriolic in their criticism, some in their mid 20’s or early 30’s. Two went as far as to say “I could have saved both them shots”. I asked one what he did for a living?, and why at his age was he watching a game on a Saturday afternoon, rather than making his living as a professional goalkeeper, if he was as good as he professed.

  4. I don’t disagree that Paul Farman has made some very good saves but the best keepers are consistent. I formed my opinion by watching him in the National league last season and for me, as good as he looked, the flaws were there to see… not commanding the six yard box, his territory, not coming for balls etc. These flaws become all the more evident at higher levels and unfortunately are plain to see. The whole essence of parrying a shot is to push it away from danger i.e. over the top or to the side of the posts, not straight back to an opposition player. When all else fails the keeper is called upon to save the day. If the keeper is beaten by a good shot we accept it but from where I and many others sit in Coop section 6 Farman’efforts just weren’t good enough. I would love it if he proves us all wrong by keeping clean sheets for the rest of the season but I just don’t see that happening…. Time will tell.

    • Completely agree with your comments, the problems have been there for some time, that is why Vickers was brought in ( a very good keeper in my opinion) Farman has made the SAME mistakes too often. He is by definition a professional footballer , he gets paid to improve or be replaced there is no room for sentiment in professional sport.

  5. For me it’s not a personal attack on Paul Farman, it’s about wanting the best for the team and the club. Otherwise why bother with transfer windows and recruitment of better, we hope, players…… If we progress upwards it is inevitable that some players might be promoted to a level of incompetence just as some people in the business world. It’s all about horses for courses to coin a phrase and it’s inevitable that sooner or later personel will fall away and whilst I would wish him well I believe Paul Farman will be in the at risk category.

  6. I don’t think Farms is lacking any confidence but 3 of the back 4 looked very low on confidence, sam looks a shell of himself from last year Luke looked out of sorts with Wilson which would lower your confidence Wilson looked good in the air but when there strikers were running at and around him he looked poor and finally Mr Eardley wow what a player he is always tackling nobody gets round him and brilliant on the overlap .
    My personal opinion is Bozzy & Wilson to be centre backs so sorry Luke and Long & Eardley full backs this should give farms protection with Bozzy cutting out the shots but I’m just a supporter and in Cowleys we trust

  7. Interesting well written piece. As a long term Lincoln fan I have the upmost respect for all the players who got us back into the league. That doesn’t mean they are all capable of playing at a higher level. it’s all about evolution. Take Graham Taylor and the rise of Watford back in the day. Paul Farman has done some really good work for Lincoln. However it is not only this season that I have been concerned about his command of the area. This as I see it has become more of an issue now we are playing at a higher level. This as we know is why Vickers came in after the Notts Co game. Now, Paul Farman won’t be worrying about us lot. He will know himself if that performance was to the level he expects. As I’ve said previously (and Danny Cowley has said the same thing), the recent games against Notts Co, Barnet, and Swindon haven’t turned out as expected due to defensive frailties – not necessarily goalkeeper. Waterfall as I see it hasn’t been to his usual standards since Raggett left. And in my opinion Waterfall is a really good player. The moment in the game that was very obscure was the non-contested drop ball in the first half. Think Woodyard and Green got that wrong and it seemed to give them momentum and put us off our stride. The ref seemed to warn Woodyard straight after. Nothing too controversial I hope. Wembley here we come!!

  8. In days gone by we all disappeared down the pub after the game and dissected the match deciding who had played well, badly or OK and what the opposition were like and how rubbish the ref was! We aired our views and disagreed in a friendly way with each other over a couple of pints and went on our way. In these days of social media there’s often no personal interaction after the game and no opportunity for views to be moderated by other fans arguments and as a result some people and it’s only a few, are going home and getting straight on to their i phones, tablets or laptops to vent their feelings. As Gary says on these ‘banter’ sites people have the opportunity to voice their opinions about the game and individual players that’s just the name of the game but, to be so openly critical of players who are doing their best to me seems self defeating. Remember, we are still on the verge of the play-offs after a wonderful season last year winning the National League and having terrific runs in the FA cup and the non league trophy. The manager has improved the team dramatically since he arrived and continues to strive to bring in even better players as time goes by. My advice to players is don’t look at these ‘banter’ sites, a lot of comments about individual players are ill-thought out, downright offensive and often drivel. Social media unfortunately allows those who can’t articulate their views face to face with others to hide behind an anonymous offering on sites,which, it has to be said live to get as many ‘clicks’ as possible and are not concerned with sensible discussion. Support your team don’t be critical of every little mistake,do you think this is the way to get them fighting to get points even when they’re all having an off-day!

  9. Well said, a balanced viewpoint at last. This blame culture died out in modern successful companies back in the 90s, the Lincoln fans are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. I used to enjoy banter but 90% of the posts now are simply annoying. Time to create a Lincoln City managed forum ?

  10. I honestly think we’ve reached a watershed. We either see a lot of people leave the banter page for all the reasons described above or we just ban those that talk about ‘not fit to wear the shirt’ stuff. I think we need to go the second route because the vast silent majority on here want some humour, some
    Information and some gossip about transfers etc not the rest of the rubbish. We need to preserve it for the majority. So cut out those that can’t behave reasonably and let them create their sour mayhem somewhere else.

  11. I have followed the Imps for over 50 years. I am a supporter. I left Lincoln in 1971 so have seen lots of away games and a majority of defeats in the West country. I keep going because I am a genuine supporter. For instance I saw all 6 games at Forest Green where we won the first and last and in between were stuffed and threw away a 3 goal lead. The victories are all the sweeter when they come along. I went to both play-off finals at Cardiff where despite the fact we had made a final three grumpy old blokes behind did nothing but criticise the team. In the end I turned and asked them to shut up and get behind the team, I had not spent nearly £150 for my sons and I to listen to so-called supporters berating their team. If you expect your team to win every week you are deluding yourself. Football is all about hopes and dreams and you have to learn to take the bad days like a grown-up. Footballers make shocking errors at all levels – look at Sterling’s miss of the season on Saturday but that doesn’t make him a bad player. He knows he should have scored. Goalkeepers are always criticised but there are 10 other men on the pitch who are supposed to help him. And the idiots on social media platforms are supposed to be supporters so please get behind the team and let’s get to Wembley and try to get in the play-offs at least.

  12. I like you posted on banter that I thought Paul was not entirely to blame for the first goal I thought it was a great unstobable shot which should have been cleared after Paul parried it. I got lots of silly comment back like I would like to drink what Mary is drinking etc. Keep up the good work and hope for a good result tomorrow

  13. Why wait till the transfere. Window to open then bring in a keeper from the other end of the country( bournmath) and not play him.dc obviously could see we needed cover there.lets give him a few games and see how good he is before he gets many splinters in his rear

  14. Social media is great for connecting fans to the club. Sadly the other side is thugs get said, sometimes just for attention, and get treated with all seriousness. What people need to realise that it is not chat down the pub, because most things people would never say to a stranger because in reality people are just not that rude or not that opinionated. But people do take what people say far too seriously and this causes the problem more than what is said. If we sound off at every provocative tweet we’d have no time left for anything else. Piers Morgan fishes for a fight and we hve the same with banter. If people I respect post something I listen because itnis measures and thoughts proviking. If someone I don’t know posts something start 9pm after a day on the beer I tend to ignore. The problem is the reaction, not always the post

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