League One Issues Part One: The Sincil Bank Atmosphere

I don’t have the solution because I’m perhaps one of the fans who would class themselves as a part-time singer. I love a good atmosphere, but it’s only ever going to be evident at certain times. MK Dons away was great, as was Everton, because going away is an invasion. Everyone goes there to out-sing the opposition and to make a mark on the way. We stick stickers, congregate in numbers and genuinely feel as though we’re an invading force.

At home, it’s different. I don’t buy that we’re too ‘nice’, in this day and age that’s barmy. You have to be, from the excellent SLO team to making away fans welcome, the EFL dictates that’s what football is now. Bury will have been punished for their fans’ anger at the end of the game and if we welcomed visiting supporters with abuse and terror we’d get the same. Besides, look at Crawley away. We got there and could drink at their ground, their fans were welcoming and it was a nice day. yes, we won, but not because I got my vodka and lemonade at the ground instead of a local pub. We won because we’re better.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

That’s where the big wins are with the atmosphere. If you’re winning on the pitch, you’re winning in the stands, at least nine times out of ten. Even the great Sunderland support sounded drab against Coventry this weekend, why? Because Cov won 5-4. 

I’ve seen comments about the atmosphere at Sincil Bank not being the same this season as the National League, do you not think circumstance dictates that to a degree? In the National League we’d not been successful at all, our fans had nothing to sing about for years. Suddenly, we’re putting six past North Ferriby and beating a good Tranmere side, so the noise increased. However, does Bromley at home stand out for you? Chester? No. You know why? Because there was something important riding on that. As the season moved towards a conclusion, the noise levels did drop because we began to get nervous and stuff began to get real. It’s easy to be signing when things are changing or you’re riding a crest of a wave, but genuinely harder when the end is in sight and it matters so much more.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

I thought the noise against Morecambe last year was great, our first game back in the league. Against Tranmere on Saturday it will be again, because we’re safely up and can celebrate. Some of the part-time singers, such as myself, feel it easier to join in when there’s something tangible to sing about or when we’re not biting our nails and checking results elsewhere. I feel around me the atmosphere changes when there’s a decision goes against us, or when something in the match marks it out as being more than it is. By that, I mean a wonder goal gives us a 3-0 lead, or a red card for one of our lads happens in controversial circumstances. Then passions get up and the noise does too.

There’s an element of human nature attached to the issue, isn’t there? Many supporters don’t go to a game to sing and create noise. As much as the hardcore would love it to be so, this isn’t Poland or Russia. Our supporters, not just Lincoln but England, are a mix of ages, families and both sexes. The inclusion might not suit everyone, but it’s a great reflection on the accessibility of the game. However, it has an impact. The family section for instance, they do not want to sing about John Akinde ‘f*cking hating’ Grimsby, do they? Some people find it easier to sing when things are going well, others want to do it all game. One section isn’t right and the other wrong.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

Then there’s my Dad who I’m sure would join in more with songs, but the fact is the Bruno Andrade one just isn’t that catchy and easy to get going. It’s a great tune, well thought out, but if you hear it on a match day it’s hard to keep up with if you don’t know the words. I’d wager a tenner my old man doesn’t know the words, but give a strong rendition of ‘we are Imps’ and he’s up off his seat busting a lung. 

The two times in my memory that an away team came and created a great atmosphere in the last two years was Coventry and Mansfield last season, and we lost both matches. However, Mansfield, Grimsby and Notts County this season tried and failed, not because they’re bad fans, but because we do actually drown them out. It might not feel like it at the time, but I don’t actually think we’ve got a problem with the atmosphere. It’s about wanting it on the day. It’s about those with a passing interest in singing being cajoled into joining in when it truly matters. 

Coventry fans in the Stacey West – Courtesy Graham Burrell

We’ll give opposition fans as many as we have to next season and, given the limited spacing within our ground, few will get more. Those who take the whole lot will come in numbers just as we did to MK and Everton and they’ll want to make their presence heard. It’s those days where we all need to stand up and be counted. However, when Southend bring 600, or Fleetwood half that, then the atmosphere we provide right now will actually suffice. Because it sounds quiet in block one doesn’t mean it is on the field, such is how noise travels. 

Also, if you’re in block one or two and you think it’s quiet, get a song going. It might be drowned out at some point, it might not last as long but you know what? Nobody has a monopoly on singing and the 617 wouldn’t begrudge someone else starting something elsewhere in the ground.

It all helps to add to the noise on the pitch and ultimately, that’s the only place the atmosphere really matters.

Now, after pumping out 2000 words I’ve decided I’m not feeling any better, so I’m heading back to the sofa, with a cup of tea and a handful of prescription drugs.



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  1. Here’s an issue: there’s a real drop in the atmosphere from about the 40th minute until the half time whistle as people drift off for their pie or pint or coffee or whatever. It’s noticeable everywhere in the ground and it must filter through onto the pitch. It’s surely not a coincidence that away teams seem to finish the first half strong.

  2. Get well soon! I think the atmosphere has dropped a little in some games due to the sense of expectation of a team that’s top of the table expecting a victory. Like Danny I don’t think the fans are comfortable being the favourites and will be much louder in league 1 as the underdogs again.

  3. Sincil Bank is one of the best grounds for atmosphere in England. Mostly to great 617 lads …
    It still could be better though. Small things like timing of certain songs for example could improve the atmosphere a lot. Maybe a few more displays (I know time and money….). Maybe some of the 617 lads should go from time to time to different sections just before the start of the game to try make the whole coop stand bouncing . That would be something….
    I know it won’t be as good as in Germany , Poland , Croatia etc… where ultras is a way of life but still there is plenty of room for improvement ..

  4. Orchestrated atmosphere although desirable pre match is false once the whistle goes..During the game my excitement levels rise and fall according to what is going on, on the pitch. If the players aren’t reaching their levels then the supporters are unlikely to reach theirs. It goes in tandem….that’s just how it is.

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