Looking Back At: October 2013

I feel almost blessed to have found these articles – they’re really the very first pieces of writing I did towards this site, although they were never published on here as they came a little too early.

I’m taking a leaf out of Bubs’ book today – he posted a reminded of our trip to Carshalton on his Facebook page today, contrasting sharply with the club revisiting the Scunthorpe United play-off game 17 years ago. 

Wow. 17 years. I’m old.

Anyway, I did intend to bring you a look at that Scunthorpe game but stumbled upon this far richer assessment of when things started to go badly wrong during Simmo’s first season in charge. Hope you enjoy, in the loosest possible sense.

It hasn’t been a great few weeks has it? Six games without a win and several games without looking like really scoring a goal means a sleepless night for Simmo and busy fingers for the keyboard warriors. The party atmosphere of the first few weeks has disappeared in an instant and a slight aroma of disappointment circulates Sincil Bank. Maybe Gary Simpson isn’t the messiah after all. Maybe we will have to endure trips to pub teams for longer than we thought. Maybe we’re not on the up.

Maybe we (I) overreacted a bit at to a half-decent start to the season?

It’s tough to put your finger on exactly what has changed. Jon Nolan is still beavering away like a red squirrel on speed in the middle of the park. Ben Tomlinson is still throwing himself around the box like a rag doll. Sean Newton still gets up and down the line a proper full back should. However, it just isn’t quite gelling. The ball isn’t falling into the right areas for the right people to get on the end of. The opposition is scoring more goals than us.

The more critical amongst us might point the finger at some of the team selections. Nick Wright has been as anonymous as Katie Price’s humility for weeks now, and Todd Jordan looks as comfortable in his varying positions as he would look standing in a barrel full of ferrets. Meanwhile, Waide Fairhurst sits on the bench watching on wondering what he has to do to get a run in the side. Maybe come on and score a couple of goals Waide? Oh, you tried that already….

On the positive note, it has been nice to play some proper teams in Aldershot, Luton, Hereford and Kidderminster because it’s almost felt a League Two fixture list. I think it’s worth pondering on this thought: maybe this is a tougher league than League Two. Every week is a scrap for crucial points because so few teams go up and so many go down. The reverse can be said in League Two meaning that only an unfortunate few end up battling against relegation. In our league, it’s only a handful seriously fighting for promotion, but the relegation battle is fought by 60% of the league.

Our fixture list reads like we’re in the Football League, and the teams that don’t almost always turn out to be surprise packages. Salisbury, Dartford and Braintree have always sounded like backwaters, but in truth, they’re decent sides that can draw on populated local areas to snatch players. It stands to reason being close to cities such as London or Southampton and Portsmouth is going to help player recruitment. The only thing that can bring players to the Bank is the gaffer and his football ethos, and he should be applauded for the players he’s brought in.

So, aside from the fact our League is far more competitive than League Two, where does yours truly think it’s going wrong? Well, I’d certainly think about including Waide a bit more. His two goals early in the season proved he is an unknown quantity and his forthright views on where the Imps are struck a chord with the fans. I think Waide has the ability to form a dynamic partnership with Ben Tomlinson, mainly because they’re the only two who speak the language (Yorkshire) and can understand each other. I know that means a spell power sitting for Nick Wright, but he’d get over it. He had plenty of practice at Mansfield.

V Barnet 2014 (Courtesy Graham Burrell)

Being more positive and going with two up top is one change I would instigate, and the other is playing certain people in their strongest positions. Todd Jordan is not a wide midfielder he is a defensive midfielder. We have a couple of those in Fofana and Foster. They’re better. Do you see where I’m going with this? Todd Jordan may do a job for us and is a useful squad player, but if he can’t get in the side in his natural position then do the kid a favour and don’t play him somewhere he clearly isn’t comfortable.

However, it has to be said that despite the slump in results we haven’t looked too bad at all. We were outplayed by Kidderminster and were far too negative at home to Tamworth and a useful looking Aldershot, but aside from that, we’ve matched some good sides. We were very unlucky at Luton and Barnet and could easily have come away with all three points at Nuneaton as well. You get the feeling we’re not too far away from being a competitive side, and that’s a big improvement on twelve months ago.

We’ve also bagged our first piece of silverware in the form of the Lincolnshire Senior Cup. It was a long-fought campaign with many highs and lows but eventually, after a gruelling competition that in total lasted 180 minutes we were victorious. On penalties, against a team we helped get ‘knocked out’ the FA Cup without even stepping on the pitch.

Our hero on the night was the enigma that is David Preece, our reserve goalkeeper and part-time intellectual. Mr Preece saved one penalty and by his own admission used the power of a tremendous beard to put the Trinity guy off for another. At the beginning of the season, the players sported Dan Gray haircuts, but he’s so yesterday now. By Christmas, I predict the squad will all be sporting the Preece Face Fleece proudly and be utilising their facial appendage to put off second rate centre forwards across the league. DP (as he probably isn’t known) has been busy on Twitter this week engaging the wrath of multinational supermarket giants Tesco. He suggested they begin to sell fruit and veg cheaper rather than throw it away. In a process spanning several Tweets* he also put forward the notion that reducing this and not ‘processed crap’ would allow the customer to live longer and spend more. He’s got a point.

David Preece

He’s also pondered on the reasons why Zlatan Ibrahimovic hasn’t mentioned scoring twice past him in his autobiography, and why Alex Ferguson omitted an anecdote about catching our hero DP (is it catching on?) in his underpants. In addition to all of this, he’s also won the Aberdeenshire County Cup or something once before, which means he’s decorated as well as well connected. Just think you always had him down as the reserve keeper with the dodgy beard.

Next week I’ll tell you how Danny Rowe has been over in Australia supporting gay marriage and same sex adoptions. Probably.

In the meantime please just remember this – six games don’t make a season. Crowds are on the increase and although we may not always agree with Simmo’s choices he is the manager. Just because you’ve taken Lincoln to the Championship on Football Manager doesn’t that you could do a better job.