This is the bit where I’m suppose to put some sort of rabble-rousing speech on about David and Goliath, talk about excitement, about it being our time and all that sort of stuff, right?
Lincoln City, heroes from 2016/17, back in the game, back on the big stage. Everton are out of form and likely to play a weakened side and that surely plays into our hands. it’s a chance to put ourselves on the map (again) and if we lose, we’ve lost nothing. I should be talking about memorable days out, visiting a majestic stadium steeped in history and maybe, just maybe pulling off a result.
Balls to that.
The truth is, I’m not excited at all. Not even a little bit. I’ve spent zero hours thinking about the game and the only time I’ve mustered up anything close to an opinion has been for the various media people who have wanted a chat. There’s nothing in tomorrow’s match that has grabbed me by the short and curlies and screamed lifelong memory. Nothing.
I sound like a right miserable sod, don’t I? I agree, so in order to work myself up into a frenzy I read back over the blogs I wrote in 2016 and 2017, the emotional stuff pre-Burnley and of course, the excited pre-Arsenal rhetoric. I soaked myself in those magical times and if I’m honest, I enjoyed it so much I read some twice. My favourite has to be the post-Ipswich stuff, reliving that through my own words was almost emotional. Almost.
I then settled back into my seat to recreate that magic for your viewing please and got nothing. Zilch. Nada. The truth is, I’m not excited about tomorrow one little bit. The result doesn’t matter at all. If we win, great. if we win I’ll change my tune and it will indeed be another great memory for us all to mull over in years to come. I don’t actually think that will happen and if it does there’s the thought that we’d ‘only’ be in round four. Been there, done that. We’d only have beaten a Premier League team on their own patch. Been there, etc etc.
There’s lots of chatter about it being a great day out for the fans, something to cherish as a reward for the loyal support. That’s all well and good if we win, but if we don’t it won’t be a great day out. I enjoyed Arsenal to a degree, but was it a day I’ll remember for ever? Not for the right reasons no. We got beat 5-0, remember? I don’t enjoy things like that, whether it’s Oliver Giroud scoring the goals or Ollie Banks.
One thing I did like about Arsenal was the ‘sesh’ as we like to call it these days. There’s nothing better than getting mortal with the lads, right? Taking over a big city, singing a few songs and all that. Right now, that’s not for me either. I like a drink, but I can do that in Lincoln on a Saturday if I like. It matters little to me where I get together with the Imps fans and my own personal preference is to take over somewhere like Notts County or Mansfield, somewhere they actually give a rats ass who we are.
Everton won’t care tomorrow, they’ll smile fondly at us and praise our support like Ipswich did. We can all come away thinking we’re the best of the best, but what does it actually matter? We know our support is the best there is in League Two, personally I don’t need Everton to tell me.
I’ll enjoy the day, of course I will. We’re going on the rustic minibus and I’ll be with my Dad, Dave, Neil and the gang, so it is all good. I just can’t get nervous for a game that has little riding on it. If I just wanted a day out I’d join the National Trust. I follow Lincoln to watch us be successful and frankly, I don’t think we will be tomorrow. I could get that little snippet of hope in my heart we might grab something, but I’ll save it.
All of this is going somewhere, I’m not laying on the miserable twat routine for no reason. I realise exactly why I’m not as up for it as I was in 2017. I realised it as I read the blogs from the week before the Ipswich game, or the week after the Burnley game. It’s because right now, we’re on a different path.
Two years ago we were only just emerging from the cloak of the National League, peering out from behind and letting the world know we were back. Lincoln fans have a chip on their shoulders, me included, about being noticed. Why aren’t we on TV? Why aren’t our players picked for this award or that accolade? Why aren’t we on the football map? Up until 2011, we were. Keith Alexander’s play-off teams were noticed. Colin Murphy’s eighties heroes were noticed. Graham Taylor was noticed. We’re not invisible, or we weren’t until the fifth tier enveloped us.
That is why 2017 was so magical, not only what we achieved but because we were coming back. reading those articles I saw it, each week a little bit more pride returned to our great club. As the season unfolded so did the belief and the cup run magnified all of that. from the 2629 who watched us draw with Guiseley in the qualifying rounds to the 8942 that went to Arsenal, or rise could be charted through the cup run. We could be proud once more and we announced it in the greatest possible way. I’ll never forget those days, but let’s not forget that it was all a precursor to the real job in hand: promotion.
Right now, we’re back. Everyone knows who we are and all the media coverage has centred on our run of 2017, the plucky National League team breaking records. That is not us, not anymore. In six months time we could be in the same league as Ipswich Town, a club we marvelled at travelling to in that previous cup run. Financially, we’re alright now too. The money coming in will be of great use, but we’ve got a decent budget and a good set of players right now. We can always have better and always improve, but as a club we’re so far removed from two years ago it is unreal.
That’s why I’m not as excited, because tomorrow’s match isn’t life changing like it would have been. Win, lose or draw we have a bigger fish to fry; promotion to League One please, ideally with batter and a bit of red sauce. The FA Cup income was vital two years ago, giving us the boost to bring in players such as Billy Knott who helped push us on to success. With or without success tomorrow we’ll be challenging for promotion in May. That’s why I can’t get up for it, because football is all about emotion for me and tomorrow is as much of a free afternoon as any game we’ve played during Danny’s tenure, bar perhaps Southport and Maidstone at the end of the National League season.
I’ll reserve my worry for MK Dons away, I’ll keep the sicky feeling in my stomach for our trip to Mansfield or the apprehension for Grimsby’s visit. I really couldn’t care less what happens tomorrow and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
That said, if we win, I will cry worse than I did at the end of Watership Down.