It might seem an odd headline for some, but it’s been 58 hours, more or less, since I last wrote anything about Lincoln City.
A frantic Deadline Day saw me accrue as many views in a single day as I used to get in a whole month, covering the events of the day and the fall out from it. I got up on Friday morning and read through some of the comments and thought processes and felt very low.
Our manager has got us to the top spot in League Two and kept us there certainly for the longest period of time I’ve ever known us to be there. His decisions and transfers have won us two trophies in as many seasons and look on course, bar a catastrophe, to earn us League One football next season.
Before he arrived we’d do well to take 700 away to our biggest game of the season, now we average 1,200 on the road. Before he arrived we’d be lucky to get 3,000 at home, now we can sell 4,000 to travel to an away game. Before him our transfer window used to be a case of rolling dice, picking up players like Nathan Blissett, Paul Turnbull and Paul Robson. Still, it didn’t matter then did it because few actually cared enough to bother.
I left it 24 hours because of the Lee Angol fall out and because I didn’t want to get a reputation for being someone who rubbishes other people’s opinions. That spread into Saturday and past the County game and I chose not to write last night because I was so utterly ashamed of a portion of our fan base for their continued persecution of John Akinde. I even told a woman to fuck off on the internet and I never get involved in that sort of exchange.
I can’t comprehensively digest the game itself and deliver you the usual report because I’m angry and upset. I’m trying so hard to respect opinion and other people’s right to have an experience but I’m struggling.
Yesterday was always going to be a tough game. Michael O’Doyle in the midfield is an inspired signing for them, he’s won promotion from this division and played lots of international football. Enzio Boldewijn has been out injured since November but is a £100,000 player with pace, creativity and trickery in his locker. Mitch Rose, another new signing, brought stability to a fragile back line and Craig Mackail-Smith is another with experience to galvanise the side.
They were at home too and as we said before the Grimsby game, these local derby matches often throw up results that buck the trend and form book. As it transpired, had we not given away a soft early penalty we might have won the game.
It was an enthralling match, frustrating as we didn’t hit our levels and yet engrossing all the same. County didn’t look like a side at the bottom of the table and I believe they’ll make a great fist of staying in League Two this season. When we did settle into our rhythm just before half time we had them on the ropes and Bruno bagged a great goal, but the whistle came at the wrong time and after a regroup, County were able to dust themselves down and go again.
There wasn’t a standout performer for the Imps, nor was our game plan helped by losing Michael Bostwick during the game and having Harry pull up in the week either. Still, that is what you battle with as a team and that was something we worked around. The terrible referee I’ve seen widely lamented on social media was poor, but for both teams. I’m sure there’s an assessor somewhere circling a time and a place in his diary right now to talk to Mr Coggins, but on the whole his erratic behaviour didn’t lose us the game.
Actually, and this may surprise you if you’ve been looking at fan reaction, we didn’t lose the game at all. We got a point and have now lost just one in 14 matches in the league, We’re top by two points and have a game in hand over our big-spending rivals Mansfield who won their game courtesy of goals from two very, very special players in Tyler Walker and Jorge Grant. I suppose our fans see that and think we’ve got some sort of duff hand, that’s the only way I can begin to explain the utter insanity I’ve been digesting over the last few hours.
It wasn’t a good day at the office for the Imps, but it wasn’t a terrible one either. Last year we went there and had an erratic referee and some things go against us and we lost 4-1. We stood as a group of 4,000 travelling fans and gave a grand account of ourselves though and came home bolster even further by mishandling by the police. Yesterday, the only thing dividing us was ourselves.
My Dad has come home thinking seriously about not renewing his season ticket, not because we drew and not because he’s angry with the team, but because he was dismayed with the comments and attitudes around him. New Harry Anderson wasn’t playing was met with a round of complaints, when Bozzy came off it was labelled madness and Danny was the villain, picking Akinde was a bad choice, signing Angol the same. For 90 minutes all he got was complaining about the club, a club top of the league and as close to an automatic promotion spot as at any time in the last 20 years. Even when we went up in 1998 we didn’t have this level of success sustained over such a period of time.