Imagine you’re at school, fifth form or whatever it’s called now. You start going out with a girl, nice enough but she’s not one the popular kids look at.
You, by the way, are not one of the popular kids. You support Lincoln City after all, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. In my experience, supporting Lincoln City was not a popular kid trait. Nor were ginger curtains to be fair, but this isn’t my story, it’s one I’ve made up to illustrate a point.
You and your girlfriend move to college and she begins to develop. Her plain-Jane looks suddenly become an alluring beauty. Her non-descript figure takes on hourglass properties. She doesn’t enter a room, she owns a room. You’re there, tagging along, but knowing deep down it can’t last.
Oh, she tells you it will. She talks a great love story; you and her against the world and all that. For a while, you fall for it. Other, more popular lads, come along and try to lure her away and although you hear she’s spoken to them, you pretend it isn’t happening. The more you ask her if she’s been talking to other lads, the more guilt you feel and the angrier she gets. Still, when you’re together it’s poetry in motion, a free-flowing 4-2-3-1 formation of a relationship.
Then, sadly, it happens. You read a text message (or in this case a Daily Mail report by a Grimsby Town fan) and suspect the game is up. You have one last holiday together, somewhere you’ve never been before (like the Caribbean, or League One) and then it’s over. You haven’t actually been told it officially, but she’s nowhere to be seen. Everyone says it’s over and you know. You just know.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is us right now. Danny and Nicky are that girl and we are the fawning fans left behind to pick up the pieces. You know what though? There was a club before them, albeit a broken down one, and thanks to them there is a solid League One club left in their place.
I once used a saying to a friend who had broken up with a girl, something like ‘you shouldn’t be sad it ended, you should be happy it happened at all’. At the time it was just some hippy shit I thought might calm him down and stop him from putting on a Radiohead album and necking a hundred paracetamol, but it’s true in this instance. Sure, we’re going to hurt. I’m hurting now. I’m seeing pictures of Danny and Nicky on social media and I feel anger; anger that they’ve left us, anger that I believed they’d stay, anger that I felt they were different. Anger that I know they won’t bother reading my work anymore.
You know what though? It won’t last. It can’t last. Eventually, we’ll get a new manager who we’ll either love or hate. He’ll either take us onwards and upwards, at which point we’ll thank the Cowley’s for what they’ve done, or the new man will crash and burn, revealing just how lucky we are.
Right now, I don’t care about how the club have handled it, who said what and all of that. Right now, all I want to read is ‘Huddersfield job breaks down at the eleventh hour’. That’s what I want to see, but I know I won’t. The local media wouldn’t be covering it if it wasn’t happening. Hell, being honest, I know it’s happening because I have spoken to a source, not ‘a guy in the gym’ or ‘a friend whose Dad used to fix Jamie McCombe’s sister’s parrot’s piano’. I know this isn’t rumour or suggestion. It’s real.
When I calm down, the anger subsides and I’m able to see a picture of Danny without feeling like a jilted teenager again (which, with ginger hair and a wardrobe consisting primarily of Lincoln shirts and lumberjack shirts, I felt a lot) I know I’ll be pragmatic.
I know I’ll look back on the last three years as the happiest times of my Lincoln City supporting life. I’ll always be a Lincoln fan, managers will come and go, as will success, but they’re my club. The viewing figures might go down on my site, the interest might dwindle from those accustomed to winning games, but the Imps are in my blood. I’ve already written I’m not a DC FC supporter, I’m an LCFC supporter. That’s no disrespect to Danny.
Life went on after Graham Taylor; we eventually had Colin Murphy. He had two good spells, then eventually after he left we got Keith Alexander. It took a while for us to find out feet after John Schofield’s first season, but we’ve had some good times in amongst the bad we all fear. We’ve never had good times like the last three years though, have we?
Three trophies. Trips to Wembley, Goodison and the Emirates. Cup runs, league wins, big days out and a competitive side, always. No, we’ve never had that over such a sustained period of time. That is down to Danny and Nicky and in fairness, a little over three years ago they didn’t care for us at all; they were Braintree bosses. They knew how to tap into the passion we had as soon as they arrived and they knew how to turn us around on the field and even though they’re going and it hurts, they’ve given us our club back.
Before anyone starts they’re just one part of the cog, but arguably the biggest part (perhaps behind Clive). They’ve earned their move and I won’t be bitter and claim they’re not stepping up high enough. I am surprised it’s Huddersfield and not Sheffield Wednesday, West Brom or Boro, but that’s their choice. Goddammit, they’ve earned the right to do whatever the ******* hell they want. If they want to walk away and go to Southend, they owe us nothing. Not a single thing. We owe them if anything, we as fans and we as a club.
I know people are hurt that they wanted to change the status of the club for good and seem to have stopped short of completing that. I know others fear that them collating their squad and then walking is bad for us, that saying the time wasn’t right misled us, but seriously all of that pales away when you consider what they did for us.
I can’t quite bring myself to be happy for them right now, just like I couldn’t be happy if the girl from the first few paragraphs got with a film star and started enjoying the high life. Eventually though, we’ll move on. We’ll bag a manager, maybe breaking a few hearts in League Two when we take someone from their club, maybe not. We’ll be the villain of the piece, the bigger club looking to grab a new manager. As fans, we won’t care about that just like Huddersfield fans won’t care what they’re doing to us.
As Sam Saunders told the SW this weekend; that’s football. It’s a game filled with emotion, both positive and negative. This is us getting a tste of the negative which, if we’re being honest, we haven’t really sampled much in the last three years.
Anyway, like with any break-up, I’m going to make sure that I’ve not got pictures of them on my wall whilst I wait for the sad, inevitable news that they’ve got the move their talent so richly deserves. I’ll crack open a bag of sweets, pour myself a fizzy drink and when tomorrow comes, we’ll all begin to move on.