Rewind to Easter 2016. I was hobbling along South Park, like Long John Silver, with my young lad. It was a sunny day apparently, I’ve checked from the Highlights of the game, as owing to my back complaint, I was on the nerve blockers from hell. It was Lincoln vs Chester. I asked the wee lad what the score would be.
“3-1 to Chester Dad,” he retorted, patting his Man Utd badge on his football top, “as Lincoln are boring and rubbish.” That’s confidence. So after our hot dog in the marooned Centre Spot (yes I still call it that) we headed to The St Andrews Stand (see Centre Spot reference).
I can’t remember the game at all, I know we won 2-1, and the crowd was 2001 (City are pictured top, celebrating the first goal). That is thanks to being able to look the match results up online. I have no recollection of the game. The nerve blockers caused memory loss and after a year of not being on them, my memory has never been the same again.
Twenty Two months ago, if you had told me what the next twenty-two months would bring in the Lincoln City world, I would probably have told you to go and see your Doctor. Or taken you to A&E, such would be the nature of your delusions, but 22 months later, we are in this place.
To quote Richard Burton in his Narrator mode “No one would have believed that…” well we haven’t been invaded by Martians “Ulla”, but instead we have had a bigger invasion. Optimism, delirium and expectation. I sometimes think that on 2nd September 2016, I died on the operating table in Sheffield and I am experiencing some sort of Lincoln City afterlife. This has been disproven somewhat by my other sporting love. The England Cricket Team. Our success has confounded many, including long time supporters and we are all wondering around like we have been invaded by Martians screaming “Ulla” So much I expect to hear Richard Burton telling me about his beloved Carrie. Not to mention David Essex in a solider’s uniform.
Well the chances of City at Arsenal are a million to one he said. Especially in a cup quarter-final, and promotion to the football league? No to an Imps fan that would have been more unbelievable than the sterling turnaround of Headingley 81. But happen it did.
With that amazing success, what could we hope for in League Two? Champions again? Steam rollering of the opposition, thousands of season ticket holders baying for the blood of the opposition? Perhaps. Well, that’s what we have now. We have massive expectations. Is it right to have them? Well, yes and no. When you listen to Danny Cowley, he constantly emphasises the gulf between us and the top teams, their infrastructure and as to where we are. Yes we are gaining ground on them every day, however they are Michael Johnson running at half pace with a 40 metre head start and we are Roger Black running at full tilt. Can we catch them? Probably not, but can we push them to them to the end. You bet we can.
Some of the fan base, myself included, have perhaps come to expect too much, but that’s because we can see the ability and the potential of the team. We have become greedy and now have a Cup Final to look forward to, our first proper cup final. And yet we demand more, we need more, like an addict with drink or drugs, or in my case pies, we keep demanding more…now…no in fact yesterday.
Life doesn’t work like that, and we know it doesn’t, but we still get drawn into the trap of it all. We get caught up in the buzz and the atmosphere and we want our team to be the most successful team in the division. Well we aren’t – not yet, it will take some time.
I keep listening to what Danny says, and I mean really listening. He talks constantly about keeping feet on the ground and not get carrying away, about how difficult it is to get back to back promotions and about how we are in transition. We need to listen to this chap, as he eats, drinks and sleeps Lincoln City, he is aware of where the players are on the playing scale on an hourly basis. With his brother and fellow legend, Nicky, he plans meticulously for every team, situation and to try to get the best result possible from it.
I am guilty of it, I think we all are, when Lincoln don’t get the result we want. We are disappointed of course, and that is a good thing. No really it is. Imagine how the Cowleys and players feel. This team likes to win and hates it when that doesn’t happen. This isn’t the National League, when the minerals went our way all the time. This is a league up from last season, with better and fitter players. There is more experience and a higher standard. We are getting used to this, and to be where we are is testament to our players and support staff.
What we need to do, and to remind ourselves is to take a leaf out of Take That’s much-speculated return back in the early 2000s.
When questioned, relentlessly, about if when they would do new material, and when it would be available, a song popped out in late 2006.
I truly believe we, as Imps fans, just need to have a little bit of it. Patience.