The following is an article submitted by the 617 squadron regarding the recent debate on match day atmosphere.
After reading Gary’s recent article in relation to atmospheres of late, in particular home ones, I felt compelled to give some sort of response from ourselves.
Firstly, I want to thank both Nezzy and Gary for bringing the issue up and getting people talking about it. Its one thing for us as a group to talk amongst ourselves about ways we can impact it and get it back up to the ‘usual’ levels but to see ideas from people who have little to no connection with the group is fantastic and at the very least shows there is an appetite from almost every type of Imps fan to see/be involved in making Fortress Sincil Bank flourish when it comes to vocals. Which brings me on to my next point.
From the beginning of this groups conception we are constantly talking about ideas. Constantly thinking of ways to improve the atmosphere, working towards the next goal. Brainstorming events to host to make the group more inclusive and allow those who express an interest in being central to what we do become more involved and eventually become a member if the shoe fits. Being inclusive is not something we have always done terribly well, although unintentionally, but it has always been the aim. To unify the fanbase because to put it simply, we are stronger together as one.
I get home from my mundane 9-5 job, maybe make something to eat and then begin having a chat with fellow members, catch up on what’s been said in the day, pitch in. Its how its been for the past eight years or so of my life. We all live and breathe Lincoln City and constantly attempt to find new ways to make the matchday experience better for all attending. This season and recent weeks have been no different, however we are now starting to get solid ideas together to put to the club and of course the rest of the fan base about how we feel we could best not just get back to atmospheres like MK Dons at home this season but surpass them.
The first thing we have spoken about is increasing core members.
If there has been one positive to come out of flatter atmospheres this season and the discussion around them, it is that there is quite clearly an appetite amongst fans to put it right.
I’ve had numerous discussions this season with people I’ve never met before expressing an interest in wanting to be more involved. Wanting to be up in block 7 and I think that there is where you start to piece together a little bit of what’s gone wrong – Not everyone wanting to create an atmosphere is in the block dedicated to making an atmosphere.
I know numerous groups of lads who have been involved with us from our conception as a group that for one reason or another were unable to get a season ticket in block 7 in our first season back in the Football League and had to settle for blocks surrounding in both upper and lower. Now I know some will say it shouldn’t matter where you’re sat it doesn’t stop you singing and to some extent I guess that’s right however the results when we are all together are much better than we’re not.
Take MK Dons away for example. I’m sure anyone there will agree in terms of vocals that was on of the best away atmospheres in recent years. I myself came out the ground and told anyone who would listen “That topped Burnley for me” and I meant it. We had a large group there that day up the back of the lower tier with around 100 or so thanks to the brilliant system now in place for away games, it means we can put word out to those we feel really help us up the atmosphere, use this person as lead name and click the singing section option to put us in and around like minded individuals.
If you have a solid core there it gives you the opportunity to keep songs going where they might normally drop off and in turn allows them to pick up again noise wise when we have a period of pressure or exciting play. People sometimes say songs go on to long but what they fail to realise is us lads have been at this for 8 years and have found a winning formula. When everyone pitches in it is something special and most clubs at this level could only dream of having support as vocal as ours on its day.
So how do we replicate this at home as we have done in the past?
The general idea we intend to put to the club is that by our 10th anniversary as a group, at the latest, the year 2021 (Season 21/22) we have both upper and lower 7 as a designated singing section.
Currently the only place with a shortage of season tickets in the ground is Lower 7. What we would suggest to the club is that all season tickets in upper 7 and lower 7 are reset and those currently in there get first dibs on seats in those 2 sections. The second part to this is that we compile a list of around 150/200 lads we feel essential to making the improved section a success to take up the first few rows of lower 7. To add on to this anyone who wished to relocate out of the section would be offered straight swaps with the numerous groups we have spread out across the co-op and other area’s of the ground who are looking to get in to the section. This way no one is losing out.
This is of course only an idea and before we go to the club with a solid plan one of our intentions is to run a poll as to whether this is something people think is a good or bad idea, particularly those who it will directly affect.
The second point we have raised in discussions amongst ourselves is the importance of community and to be precise, the 617 community.
Something we have always wanted to do is more events throughout the season and closed season away from matchdays. Things like our Christmas party we held at the Shakey following the Newport game where Liam Scully and Roger Bates joined us for some beers and said a few kind words on the microphone. It makes it feel more like a movement than just something that passes the time on a Saturday. It makes people feel more connected to the group and what its about. It allows people you might not necessarily have met before to become more acquainted with group members, feel more of an affiliation to what it is we do. Feel more comfortable around each other In the block. Have a common cause. Ultimately become more involved.
Its not just about creating an atmosphere for 90 minutes on a Saturday – Its about creating a community within a community.
So with that said it is our intention this summer to hold an open day of sorts down at the club. Discussions have already been had and in terms of how far down the line we are with this its really just a case of getting a date sorted and the formalities involved in hosting a day like this.
The day itself will be the ‘617 Cup’ so as I’m sure you can guess a 6 a side tournament on the astro is the main event. All team spaces are unfortunately taken up but the event itself we intend to run from 10am-5pm.
As well as the main event we intend to have a number of stalls. These will be things we feel relate to 617 and the culture we are trying to implement. Gary is there with classic match day programmes. Nezzy with his football memorabilia and trainer show. The up and coming business Sneaker boys who restore your old and tattered Adidas classics. The FSF (Football Supporters Federation) have said they will attend. 617 with our own stall, with merch on sale. T shirts, badges, stickers. A BBQ. Numerous charities connected to the group through one way or another and so much more. This isn’t your more corporate fan zone style of day (Not that there is anything wrong with the fan zone it just isn’t our cup of tea) this is an expression of what we’re about and something we want as many people as possible to come down to and experience. Ask the group lads questions. Its something we want people to feel affiliated to or at the very very least have some modicum of respect and appreciation for, that something like this can exist in our fan base. Something that is fan organized, that comes from the heart.
The Travis Perkins suite is open to for a beer or ten to before anyone panics as well as an after party later in the evening.
At every club up and down the country you will find families catered for by their respective clubs and that is fantastic. It’s the modern game. It is something to be celebrated that things like our fan zone exist and provide lots of people heading to the match the sense of belonging we are talking about above.
What we are trying to do is provide that for your typical working class lad who loves a beer pre game, gets a bit lively, wants to feel that extra connection to his club in some way that the club can’t provide and that is something we can not only provide but make coexist successfully with what’s already in place at the club.
If it goes well, it will only be the beginning.
Marches like the ‘Return to the Football League’ one through town is something we will look to make more regular, displays throughout the season to. Lots is planned but please appreciate these things take time and for every 10 ideas 1 will come to fruition.
Just to round this off we are aware that there are some things that are completely out of our control and if we’re being realistic have played a large part in duller atmospheres. Atmosphere tourists, young lads there for the image. Its about trying to educate these types as to what we’re about and how they can fit into it. Working with what we have to eventually end up where we want to be. I can’t quite believe I’m going to say this but leading for all but two weeks of the season probably did atmospheres more harm than good. The simple reason for that is because we have thrived when our backs are to the wall, when Lincoln City are the underdog. When we’ve had no right to pull off results we have in the past and I think personally a lot of that feeling will return next season. Its new, everyone goes into it knowing they must do anything they can to go our players that extra edge.
We aren’t at panic stations yet but we cannot let this slowly get worse and worse, season after season when the appetite is still clearly there.
So I’d urge anyone who wants to listen to keep an eye out on our social media for any upcoming events. We are really wanting to up our game going into league one and that is only possible if everyone buys into what we are trying to create. Displays will be more regular next season to after a difficult year cash wise for ourselves. One is planned for the final home game, as usual you’ll have to wait until the day to find out what it is. I know how big of a role they play in people feeling more of a part of the group.
Any questions feel free to message the groups Facebook page or twitter, one of the lads will get back to you at some point.
617 – Greatness always starts from nothing *GROUP SLOGAN*