What a season it has been. Ups and downs, massive crowds and a fervour that has continued to grip the City, that has not been seen…well not in my life time.
I was born a few months after “that” season whereby Graham Taylor’s outfit smashed all that came before them, barring the very infrequent hiccup.
Fast forward to 2018 and we have a gripping last few games at the death of a season which has seen us get to Wembley for the first time and win our first National Cup.
Not bad eh?
As matters turn to the old “bread and butter” and the remaining fixtures are quite terrifying, I am left with asking myself if it isn’t a bridge too far. Yes, this league is unpredictable and staggering results can be thrown up, but looking at our final few fixtures, I can’t help but thinking that we will, sadly, fall at the last hurdle.
This is something I have felt all season. It’s not based on our (until recent) dismal history, but on the fact that we are still in transition. What? I hear a few people cry, how can you say that?
Easily. If you consider the recent promotions to the EFL from the Conference, there are very few of whom have, in recent years, achieved promotion. In fact, the vast majority have struggled. Most of them took the Conference by storm, and then found themselves competing in a league that has increased in quality, since our previous relegation, exponentially.
It now appears to be as tough as the conference to get out, anyone can beat anyone, and to finish in a promotion place shows that you must have been a cut above the rest, across the whole race.
Lincoln has had an excellent year, we have punched above our weight on the pitch and got results to allow us to be in contention, when perhaps on paper, we have no right to be. Yet the energy and drive of the squad and management, with the team mantra has succeeded in this. We have achieved much more than our recent peers of whom were also promoted from the Conference.
What is my reasoning behind this assessment, that this final push is a bridge too far?
Well, unlike the fated push into Arnhem, we have not underestimated the opposition, or over estimated our ability to overcome them. We keep hearing Danny say that “X club are two years ahead of us, but we are catching up with them all the time.” Yes, we are making great strides, but they are still ahead of us. They have spent a number of seasons to build their strength up to this moment or have a benefactor that can pay whatever it takes to build a squad that is the costliest in the league. We are the gate crashers to this party, ripping up the rule book and demanding a seat.
Looking at it coldly, however, with our remaining fixtures, I just don’t think we have the firepower to do it this season. Is that a failure? Of course, it isn’t. We had to complete a rebuild of the team in mid-season and that takes time to take effect. Whatever way you look at it we have competed in every game we have played – Crewe apart. But then every team at the top have had a performance or two like that. We have battled and harried, punched above our weight and have executed it, more often than not, brilliantly.
We have shown immense courage and bravery. We have performed excellently. We have galvanised a whole new level of support and we have built an excellent foundation for the push next season. Whatever the outcome of the next four games, this has been a record breaking, historic season…. again. Anyone else who think anything to the contrary can go and buy a season ticket at the Posh and watch Fatty Evans.
We will have breached the 200,000 home supporters barrier for the first time in two generations, we will always be on the EFL Trophy as winners. Not bad eh?
So, if you were to really pin me down, a la Paxman, in answer to the initial question. “A Bridge to Far?”
I’ll give the most definitive answer I can. In homage to Benny and Bjorn, “It’s not the 2nd of May. One more ace to play.”
Dedicated to the memory of the brave allies and civilians of Arnhem in 1944. We will remember them.