I’m a little reticent talking about the Wembley in case I get accused of losing sight of the bigger picture or chasing success, but I feel I had to make comment about the confirmation of us facing Shrewsbury in the Checkatrade Trophy Final.
I know the competition is still dividing fans, some of those who boycotted have a chip on their shoulder, more likely down to the fact some new fans will see Lincoln at Wembley and they won’t, whilst some of those going to the final are quick to judge hard core fans holding firm to their principles. I can see both sides of the argument and I’m not going to say too much on it. I did see a post earlier that made me howl with laughter though and if the person who posted it is reading this, it’s nothing personal and I’ve no intention of falling out with you. However, I read that a fan would perhaps prefer to be travelling away with less than 100 Imps fans than he would enjoying our current success with people who (hilariously, admittedly) thought the official coaches might only be one way.
If Lincoln becoming some akin to a success has given me an insight into both ends of our eclectic fan base, it has also reaffirmed my position bang in the centre of the argument. There’s some behaviours I understand and some I do not, but I would never, ever wish to travel all the way to Preston on a cold Tuesday night in February to watch us get beat 5-0 again just because it was ‘real’. Nor would I ever imagine that the supporters coach might leave me in Lancashire if I’d only paid half my fare.
Anyway, back to the task in hand, Shrewsbury. I am a believer in fate and patterns in life, I always have been. I don’t believe that life is mapped out for you, but I believe quirks of fate are far more than coincidence. People, places and events all end up forming patterns of which we find ourselves a part of, the intricate web of life I used to call it. Not now, I’m not such a pompous arse. One day I could tell you the story of how I met Fe and how, through circumstance, I can attribute it to almost all of my closest school friends, some of whom I’d not seen for several years.
I could also regale you of a tale in which fate played a hand back in 2001, when I almost ended up moving away from Lincoln. I’d foolishly stumbled across an unsuitable girl whom I was prepared to up sticks and move away for, someone whom I blamed fate for directing me to. Again, the story is ridiculous and long, but predictably the town I was eventually offered a job in was Shrewsbury.
Even at quarter final stage I told a few of my nearest and dearest that it would be them. My whole belief in fate and mine being entwined with Lincoln City, is down to the game that took place on November 18th, 1978. I was 24 hours away from emerging into the world and Colin Murphy took charge of his first game as Lincoln manager. We played Plymouth and drew 3-3, but the referee’s name for the final match before I came into the world, was Hutchinson. Not only that, but he came from Bourn in Cambridgeshire, a hamlet later developed and named Cambourne which is the place my current partner lived when we met. Yeah, I believe that stuff, laugh all you want.
That’s why I knew if we reached the final, it would be Shrewsbury. If we hadn’t, it wouldn’t have mattered, but we have and it is. It was Shrewsbury mascot Ron, aka Lenny the Lion, who introduced me to a world of fun through mascot events too. I’ve been there a couple of times as Poacher too, only ever to the Gay Meadow (pictured top). It is a town not unlike our own, quaint and historical but with it’s rough areas. The club are not unlike ours, only they’ve moved grounds and reaped the rewards. We’ve a similar fan base and history and in essence, a perfect match on April 8th.
20,000 tickets sold, another 10,000 on order and hopefully a bit of nice weather to usher in the new era in Wembley. On April 8th, we break the Wembley hoodoo once and for all and who knows, it might just be a dress rehearsal for the play off final almost two months later, something that everyone can enjoy, young and old. However, if you’re a Lincoln City fan and can’t appreciate the wonderful things that are happening around our club, genuinely you need to assess your outlook on life. I know the club has attracted few, how shall we put it, numpties, but what club hasn’t? There was a few about when we were getting stuffed by Salisbury and Welling most weeks, only then they weren’t the focus of our attention, the god awful football was. Nobody cared how long you’d supported the club in 2012, nor what your motivation for being there was. Personally, I don’t care now, I just care about a full stadium and solid foundations for the future.
Whatever baggage success brings, never wish it away. One day, fate will cast us back into troubled time, it always does and those who are hoping for the new fans to disappear might get their wish. If they do, they can have a few days on that high horse, singing about being right, then we can all get back to losing away at Carshalton or celebrating the signing of some loan kid called Caton from Shrewsbury, rather that plotting a way to beat them in a Wembley final, eh?