Checkatrade Trophy Win – SW’s experience

“Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy?”

90% of you will recognise the lyrics, but as I laid my head on my pillow last night I couldn’t help but have those words going around my head incessantly. I’m going to ignore the politics, the ‘success shaming’ from other club’s fans and all of that. Yesterday afternoon, Lincoln City won a trophy at Wembley, something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.

I’m going to talk about the match, the club and all of that later on, but I wanted to throw the personal bit out there first because, after all is said and done, yesterday was about more than a game of football. It was about 27,000 (okay, 9,000) personal stories of supporting the club through thick and thin, from afar or close to home. It was about individuals as much as it was the team because what is a football team if not just a collection of individuals all desperately wanting the same thing from generation to generation?

My weekend started on Saturday, we parked at Stanmore, wandered up Wembley Way and did the obligatory nose around Central London. It was very routine, ride the tube into the city, grab a bite to eat on the South Bank, bump into Casey near Blackfriars Bridge, on to St Paul’s Cathedral… wait, bump into Casey? The DJ guy? Yup.

Okay, we shouldn’t be surprised, but it’s not every day you’re walking in London and you bump into a friend of almost two decades and even though we were invading en mass, it was still a touch surreal to hear someone shouting me in the big city. As for St Paul’s, it was £18 to get in. Looks alright from outside, on to the pub.

First up was the Punch and Judy where we saw Maria and Jackie of the Lady Imps, plus their entourage. Even as we had a cheeky vodka 24 hours before the game, you could see lots of Imps, sporadically cheering, waving to each other and sharing excited talk about being at Wembley.

We’re the red and white army

Then it was down to Drury Lane to meet my Dad who had by then located his favourite London pub (the only one he ever goes in) and had already smashed his way through half of their Guinness reserves chilling with Mo. The media portray London as this simmering den of iniquity, where anyone with dusky skin has a knife and anyone with a shaved head wears Union Jack underpants and harbours a hatred of all things foreign. In truth, it really isn’t. We got in the pub and immediately found ourselves chatting to a QPR fan who, in broadest cockney, asked us why we were in town. After three or four-minute of conversation he asked me to slow down as he couldn’t understand my accent, which was a relief because I’ll be buggered if I knew what he was saying. Diversity, it doesn’t just come in shades of skin colour.

We left Dad in the Prince of Wales, happily watching Sky Sports news and people, whilst we went back for a shower before the first big meet of the day.

I’ve known Sam and Rawiri White for a while now, they grew up in Horncastle but I must confess are a little older than me. Rawiri has been watching Lincoln since the days of Sam Ellis and for a big, practical man is extremely emotional when it comes to football. Sam, who many have disagreed with on social media, is remarkably less argumentative than many take her for. They’re both really nice people and Saturday was our first face to face meet in a long while.

You may or may not know, it is they who sponsor Matt Green, but they asked me if I’d like my name by the shirt. Apparently my writing helps Imps in exile feel connected and with them living 11,500 miles away, they couldn’t really be in anymore exile than they are at present. They’d travelled over from New Zealand for the game, not just the final but also Exeter and Carlisle away.

We shared drinks, had some dinner and generally put the world to rights ahead of the big game. Most of the chatter was about being at Wembley and how far the team had come. It seemed a nice night with which to start the main event and, upon retiring early, a fitting way to bring our first day in London to a close.

continued on page 2


  1. Iremember a time not toolong ago when a attendance of 2700 at home would have looked upon as a good never mind 27000 travelling fans.
    At the end of Sundays game i thought of Bob Dorrian he deserves a great accolade for keeping City afloat.

  2. Amazing. Was hard to keep the eyes dry. I just want to mention Clive Nates as well. In keeping with the excellent culture at the club, I notice that he wasn’t in the Royal Box. No, he was directly opposite on the other side of the stadium – near to where I was – and keeping a low profile. Not lording it – just acting like a regular fan and enjoying himself. Good for him – and we owe him (as well as many others at the club) our gratitude.

    • Clive does see to be like that…I bumped into him coming out of the Emirates last season. …on his own with his rucksack on his back. I thanked him for what had been a fantastic cup run….lttle did I know what was to come!

  3. Sat here, 24 hours later and still in London, reading your words and tears streaming down our faces. In public…waiting for a train…full of ale, thank you. Sums up the day on a supporters level. From the heart.
    Bring on the Vale and hope we are back here at the end of May with tears of joy once again, (unless automatic promotion happens, obviously!)
    Thank you
    From two messy Imps sat in Parcel Yard awaiting return to our celebratory City. Ooh, time for a beer!

  4. I thought same as Barry. The amount of grief Bob Dorrian has got over the time in charge, I was delighted to see him up there shaking hands with Danny after collecting his medal. I was also amazed to see Alan Long there with tears in his eyes. I am a Lincoln fan but it is never more than a game to me, but I am full of admiration for those where it means everything, and I delighted in seeing so many happy faces. Not my first time at Wembley by a long chalk, but certainly my favourite time.

    Next time you go, worth noting there is another tube station and a train than can be quicker than Central.

  5. I certainly know what you mean about not wanting to leave. I am not in a great place at the moment with my dad being quite ill and I tried to not think about that. But when he sent me a message before the game that Imps would win 1-0 I so wish I had put some money on it for it. Still brings a tear to my eye now thinking about that as I write this. I am an exiled Imps fan and I haven’t been to many games over the last 6 or 7 years and feel I have missed out on the Cowley wagon train but I could not miss yesterday. I have alway wanted to see the Imps at Wembley and even though I saw both of the Cardiff games, Wembley is the one isn’t it. And we only bloody won it.

  6. still trying to register we won even after 24 hours even after seeing the goal go in even after collecting my winnings through Elliott scoring at 40/1 thinking of all the players that graced Sincil Bank Neville Bannister, school mate John Ward, John Kennedy, Holmes, Graver, Gordon Hughes, Bill Taylor, Graham Taylor, many many more. Thank you to you including those dark days infront of 900 at Aldershot, struggling to get 3000 at many home games. Praise must go to Bob and Nate for taking the stick but for staying the distance enjoy the ride for as long as we all can

  7. Great piece of writing for those of us that have been there through thick and thin bought seats, sponsored players supported crowd funders and handed over time and money to keep the club afloat.
    A downside was the booing of the shrews not the fans that sung you are the champions to yeovil years ago various other nice gestures over the years, nor the ones ignoring the football to pour beer over a guys rear end.

    A moment to savour and hope that the supporters remember this day through all the ups and downs in the future.
    but what an achievement thanks Danny and Nicky Clive and Bob and Chris M for laying the foundations of this team.

  8. Well done Gary, you’ve captured it all in this article. There were tears odd pride and joy in our party as well. Thank you…..

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