Every year the transfer window would come around and I’d be full of hope.
I was never full of belief. All through my time as a Lincoln supporter we’ve never been the big hitters in a transfer window. In the nineties we did make signings I thought would fire us to glory; Joe Allon and Leo Fortune-West come to mind. They were two players who fit the bill of a ‘proven striker’, but they have fewer goals or games for the Imps than Ben Hutchinson.
At the turn of the century we were being frugal, even promotion to the third=tier in 1998 didn’t bring riches. No, Lincoln City have always been one of those sides who seems to make do in the summer.
It’s not always a bad thing; one summer we ‘made do’ with Simon Yeo, Ben Futcher and a host of other cast-offs and we ended up at Cardiff. Another year we plucked a striker called Gary Fletcher from non-league obscurity, only for him to add a Taylor to his name and grace the top flight.
We never expected it though; we never thought we’d genuinely get the striker who had form, or the midfielder that would make other teams stop and stare. One year, when Peter Jackson was in charge, it was clear to everyone we needed a striker. We signed Chris Fagan but as the summer went on, nobody came in. Eventually, Rene Howe signed and we thought we were made.
This cycle kept on. We had decent summers, of course we did, not all players are duff. Managers like Chris Moyses did well in bring Rheady and Liam Hearn to the club, Gary Simpson tried to build us up with ben Tomlinson and Jordan Burrow. We were never raising eyebrows though.
Not until Danny Cowley came in.
I don’t know what he does or how he does it, but as soon as he arrived everything changed. Nathan Arnold, Sean Raggett and Alex Woodyard were excellent signings, with Arnold the first to have me wondering if we might be a draw for players. The next summer we grabbed Matt Green and Bozzy, two more players we had no right to sign. Both times we found success.
Danny always pleads poverty, he’s always playing down what we must spend, but last summer he outdid himself. Jason Shackell, on best part of £30k a week the season before, joins our defence. John Akinde, a 20-goal a season striker for much of his career, chooses Lincoln. Bruno Andrade, the hottest player in the National League, arrives before the season has properly ended.
Going into this summer, we expected a certain level of signing. We know now we’ve got facilities that players are attracted to. We know we’re a team that have made waves in the game and prospective signings know who we are. In Danny and Nicky, we have two infectious personalities that clubs want to entrust their talent too. We know we’re a draw and we half expect the unexpected.
When we got o mid-June and the playing staff had hardly changed, few panicked. We’ve all learnt our lesson to judge the summer on the window closing, not on who we’ve paid silly money for at the end of May.
The window is now closed, so judging will commence. Have we had the best summer ever? We evaluate the squad from back to front.