He might be 34, he might be appearing with less frequency, but the big man is still a huge part of the squad, physically and in terms of his personality.
He’s been with us since it started, seeing the green shoots of recovery under Chris Moyses, followed by Clive’s arrival and then that of Danny and Nicky. We nearly lost him that first summer but a deal was struck and he’s not looked back.
When he first broke into professional football at the age of 27, he surely can’t have imagined by the time he was 34 he’d have three trophies, a Wembley appearance and be a League One footballer. Well, now he is.
“I’m delighted to have signed a new contract. The club is moving in the right direction, and I’m over the moon to be here,” he told the club’s official website.
“I have loved every minute here, from day one, it’s been a rollercoaster journey, but to get the contract signed and be here for another year is unbelievable.”
I wrote a piece for Football League World earlier today outlining why I feel he’ll be as proud as anyone at the club with the recent League Two title confirmation. He’s become part of the furniture at Sincil Bank, but his presence next season is going to be important.
The supporters like Matt Rhead. Sure, he’s less effective over 90 minutes now than he was against Eastleigh and Woking, but he still has a role to play. I thought John Akinde had his best game in a long while this weekend and it’s no coincidence that comes when he’s running off the big man.
Anyone who thinks League One is a step too far only needs look at Akinfenwa at Wycombe. he’s been a part of their League One campaign, as Rheady will be ours. We won’t rely on him, but if we need the ball to stick up top in the last ten minutes, he’s going to be the ‘go to’ guy. When we have an EFL Cup game, or need an impact sub and a last roll of the dice, he’s the man they’ll call from the bench.
Besides, he’s a likeable character. he’s down to earth and understands football supporters. He’s been one of us, he’s sat in the stands watching Stoke knowing exactly what he wants to see from his heroes. When he’s out on the pitch, he gives his all.
Without sugar-coating things too much, he will be on the periphery. If you want to challenge in the top half of League One, you need strikers who will deliver more mobility than Matt Rhead. That, sadly, is fact. However, his attributes far outweigh the reasons to let him go and again, this is a wise move by Danny and the club.
Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a sentimental decision either. Danny doesn’t do sentiment, whatever this may look like. Remember Terry Hawkridge? Alan Power? Sean Long? No, Danny isn’t a man to hand out a contract unless there’s a viable gain. Every single action is done with a gain in mind, be it on the field, in the dressing room or psychologically. Matt Rhead hasn’t been given a deal because of what he’s done for the club, he’s been given one on the basis that he can still do more.
Personally, I like Rheady. He’s a great guy to interview, down to earth, dry and witty but also honest and open. he’s a throwback to another era, when players and fans were alike. He’ll tell it like it is, politely of course, and he offers up more in some interviews than many of our players. he’s less guarded and although there’s very few I struggle to connect with, he’s one player I love to see appear as my next programme interview.
50 goals, closing in on 200 appearances and now another year to add to that tally. Anyone claiming this man isn’t a Lincoln City legend is soon going to have to have a rethink.
Here’s how news of his new deal has been received on social media this evening.
Absolute legend ⚽ ⚽ ⚽
— Paul bee (@BuzzerimpBee) April 24, 2019
2 weeks ago we won promotion and I thought what a time to be an Imp.
On Saturday we were crowned champions and I thought what a time to be an Imp.
And today we get 3 of the best players we’ve ever had extend their contracts.
This really is a great time to be an Imp.
— Andy Helson (@andyhelson) April 24, 2019
That's fabulous news, Rheady is a firm favourite with us. We've loved watching him play during the last two seasons & couldn't be happier that he will be back on the pitch for League 1. Matt if you see this, thanks for making time for this photo pic.twitter.com/mq8f783Nez
— Valerie Daniels (@sparklyval) April 24, 2019
I can’t like this tweet quick enough
— John Temperton (@JohnTemp1986) April 24, 2019
Rheady is a Superstar!
Fabulous news 😀😀😀😀😀
— buckielugger (@buckielugger21) April 24, 2019
Inject this into me
— Liam Knight (@LiamKni00) April 24, 2019
Right decision I’d say. There’s an increase in the number of ball-playing centre-backs who might not be used to facing someone like Rhead; wouldn’t expect him to start many games in League One but could be an effective Plan B and a way of retaining aspects of the #Imps identity. https://t.co/k192WFidOP
— Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) April 24, 2019
Rhead or we riot https://t.co/bnPGhgKgXm
— Jack Mulhall (@JackMulhall92) April 24, 2019
They say dreams rarely come true, they say life isn't like a rom-com but here we are, Matt Rhead in League One, glorious stuff!! https://t.co/ZYKdv5LlCG
— Tom Clarke (@_TomClarke) April 24, 2019
— Roy T (CambridgeImp) (@Camimp83) April 24, 2019