Huge thanks to Valerie Daniels who has taken time out to write down her experiences as a so-called plastic fan of Lincoln City. It’s an accusation that hurts Imps fans, that our big crowds are false fans, especially those of us who remember who Rory May is, but is it really a cross a new fan should bear? At what point can a new supporter just become a supporter? Why the stigma attached to people discovering this great club of ours and why the snobbery from the same fans who were trying to boost the crowds when times were bad?
“I DIDN’T REALISE WHAT I HAD BEEN MISSING….”
I always read Gary’s blogs but I have never commented on any of the posts, or in fact any that are written about Lincoln City by other people on social media. If you are wondering why, it is all about respect. I am a ‘new fan’, a fan that some people may choose to call a ‘plastic fan’. I am respectful of the pecking order that exists, and I have seen other ‘new fans’ or ‘plastics’ shot down for a casually worded, naïve, or careless post on social media. There is a kind of arrogant supremacy within the club (you are only entitled to an opinion if you have been following football here for the past 35 years etc.) I get it… I don’t believe I have earned the right to comment, I don’t know much about past players, former managers, playing tactics. In fact, if you want me to be honest, I don’t know much about football…..
Having just read the above, I guess you might be wondering what prompted me to write this article!? It is hard to explain my motivation, even to my husband, who (I am sure) secretly believes I have gone slightly crazy! I enjoyed reading the ‘Plastic Fantastic’ blog and found so many links to my own recent experiences that it made me want to share my ‘plastic’ football involvement with you all. The blog was based on several generalisations, so I thought you might want to hear about what my actual experience has been as a ‘newbie’, to help you understand how the ‘plastics’ see things, and fundamentally how it is that I have come to be at the club at all. In part, what I have written is for me too, so that (hopefully in 30-35 years if I’m lucky) I can look back at this and remember how my journey started.
I am a 47-year old mum of three girls. I am not from a sporty family, and, despite having three younger brothers, football was not a feature of our family life. My dad vaguely followed Bristol City, his childhood home team, and I have early memories of him tuning in to get the Final Score football results on a crackly radio at the end of a Saturday afternoon. At junior school I was wooed by the romance of the big club magic and bought Liverpool football stickers for my collector’s book. But that was it.
My colleague is a steadfast Arsenal supporter, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that my first introduction to LCFC was linked to the excitement surrounding the Lincoln-Arsenal FA Cup match. As an employee of Lincoln University, I was fortunate to see the FA Cup when it visited the university prior to the match. My colleague was much amused by my resultant notion that “maybe it would be nice for my family to be able to go to the match” as he smugly secured his tickets with the Arsenal fans. It shows how little I knew about LCFC’s popularity and what was happening within the city. From that point on it was impossible to escape the excitement within the city in the build up to the match and beyond.
I didn’t realise that LCFC league game tickets could be purchased through the Uni Imps scheme until I noticed an advert a week or so before the 2017 Christmas holidays for the Boxing Day match against Stevenage. As my husband had followed the club when he was younger (before I met him), I thought it might be fun to surprise him with some tickets for the match, so bought tickets for us both and two of our girls (at the time aged 9 and 14).
I didn’t know what to expect: I had never been to a football match anywhere in my life, not even a children’s match! My experience until that day had been limited to seeing occasional football highlights on the TV and haphazardly following the World Cup. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy spending a couple of hours in the cold watching a bunch of guys chase a ball around a muddy piece of grass; but it was the chance to spend time with my family, so I was happy to give it a go. We were lucky, it was a good match, Lincoln beat Stevenage 3-0, and everyone went home happy. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight and my youngest daughter was a bit niggly with the cold, but I was completely smitten with the passion for the game that the fans showed, and the noise that was blasted out by the 617 lads.
Disappointingly, my youngest daughter decided that she did not want to go to any more matches, so I only went to the odd match between January and April, when I could organise to go without her. Wembley was different however – it was scheduled for a date when we were on holiday in Herefordshire, there was no way we were missing it, we couldn’t leave her on her own, so she had to come! Tickets were bought and train travel from Swindon organised. It was at Wembley that my youngest daughter changed her view of football, which is hardly surprising; being part of such a massive crowd of people all singing, clapping and cheering for their team was one of the most incredible experiences I had witnessed. It really was not just about the win that day – it was the whole experience – and my girls bought into it. Having secured their endorsement, all the pieces fell into place. We became a family of ‘plastics’.
Next Page: Falling in love with the Imps