One of the down sides to our fine draw with Mansfield in midweek was the incident at the end of the game which saw skipper Luke Waterfall sent off.
I think by now we’ve seen the images on social media, sadly they’re not my photos so I can’t reproduce them here. The evidence is pretty clear, video evidence suggested what photographic evidence has proven. It all starts when Ollie scores and in response to some intense barracking he takes off for the home fans.
Now, I’ve heard our fans complain when Jodi Jones did the same thing at Sincil Bank, so any Lincoln fans calling Jones but defending Luke are, sadly, hypocrites. I didn’t hammer Jones at the time, celebrating in front of fans is part and parcel of the game, footballers are only human and if someone had been giving me stick for something and I proved them wrong, I’d gladly go and tell them what I thought.
Some moron then throws a bottle at Luke, which is wrong. Luke then throws it back into the crowd, which is worse. Let me explain why.
Not all football fans have a degree of common sense or grounding in the real world. Some believe that when you pay your money, you’re legally entitled to behave in any way you want towards players without retribution. Matthew Simmons thought he could, he got a kick to the chops for Sir Eric for his troubles. I hate unprompted abuse of players, home or away. I’ve fallen foul of it at times, my emotions have often run away with me and I’m not proud. I would never, ever throw a bottle or a coin at anyone.
However, those people exist and what Luke should have done is leave the bottle where it was, or taken it to the referee. That smug Notts County player had something thrown at him by a Lincoln fan in our match earlier in the season and he smiled a patronising smile at the 4,100 fans that didn’t throw anything and took it to the referee. That was, sadly, the right response.
If he’d picked it up and launched it back into the crowd, there would have been all hell broken lose. Just imagine it. That is why Luke was out of order, whether it is a coin, a bottle or a brick (if it was he’d have headed the fricking thing back), Luke Waterfall should not have thrown it into the crowd. He will have known it as soon as he did it, it’s why he got so angry about it. I’ve spoken to Luke before for the programme interview and he’s a lovely bloke, he’ll be regretting his moment of madness. I understand it by the way, that adrenaline as we equalise and the anger as he’s hit by a bottle, but that doesn’t excuse it.
Danny has accepted the three match ban and to be fair, he’s acknowledged it was a moment of madness. He said: “It’s not ideal, Luke as disappointed as anyone. I’m not into kicking people when they’re down, we’ll just forget it. He’s a lovely boy and a credit to their football club and it was just a crazy moment.”
Jamie Carragher rather famously threw a coin into the crowd in a game against Arsenal in 2002. Back then, he was quite adept at skimming as his coin managed to hit three fans. The police were initially involved, but in the end Carragher was banned for three games and fined £40,000 by Liverpool. Luke’s ban matches that but one would assume he isn’t going to be fined, especially not after Danny’s comments. Rightly so too, it wasn’t indiscipline, it was passion rightly or wrongly.
If the club appealed the ban, it could have been extended, but that wasn’t going to happen. A six game ban was always incredibly unlikely. So unlikely that I’d say there was more chance of going a whole day without reading a ‘Sean Raggett isn’t playing for Norwich’ status on Lincoln City Banter, or of getting Marcus Needham and the Pearson boys to walk up Wembley Way on the 8th holding hands and singing about how much they love the Checkatrade Trophy to the tune of ‘Kum Ba Ya’ (it works, it’d go something like Check-a-trade my lord, Check-a-trade. Personally, I think they should record it for us all to enjoy.)
Luke Waterfall will be hurting right now, he’ll feel as though he’ll let the club down and the fans. He’ll feel aggrieved too, angry that the bottle was thrown at him in the first place and the perpetrator will be back at Field Mill with no repercussions whatsoever (other than having to listen to the Radford woman every week). He’ll be going through a range of emotions, but he’s our skipper and I’m sure there’s no animosity or anger on most fan behalf that he should be worried about. We could have done without the sending off, but we’ll survive. It isn’t his fault James Wilson is injured or that Raggett went back to Norwich (even I’m at it now).
All we have to hope is that James Wilson gets back into training next week and heals at a rate quicker than science, or that Lee Frecklington stops pretending not to be a brilliant footballer and starts turning it on in the middle of the park. If that happens, Bozzie can cover at the back and we’re good to go. Danny will have a plan. He always has.