We won’t know the full line up of League One next season for a while yet, but we will know who joins Crewe, Plymouth and Swindon in the third-tier next season by the end of the day.
I’m sure 80% of Lincoln fans will be keen to see Keith Curle’s Northampton amongst our ranks next time out with it being such a short journey, especially after the Exeter shenanigans of 2018, but I’m not so sure. Being honest, I’m leaning towards the Grecians for a couple of reasons. Maybe I don’t hold grudges as much as some, maybe that is why I want Huddersfield to survive, or maybe it is my connections with the Devon club.
I do confess, two trips to Devon in a season wouldn’t be entirely welcomed, especially not if the season kicks off later as expected. Imagine, Plymouth away in January and Exeter in February; not great. On the other hand, Northampton is nice and driveable, something my Dad and I took advantage of when we beat them on the opening day of the Championship season. It’s not a great away trip though, a soulless, half-completed stadium on a miserable industrial estate, so location really is the only bonus here.
As for Exeter, they’re in danger of becoming us from 15 years ago; they’re always around the top seven in League Two, they’ve turned around some top players (Pym, Stockley and Boateng spring to mind) and still mounted challenges, but they always seem to be one step away from actually getting promoted. I think they’ve got their work cut out against a very physical and direct Northampton tonight, but part of me hopes they get through it.
I have strong connections with Exeter; my Granddad Muxlow on my Mum’s side moved down there in retirement and took two kids with him, now my Uncle Keith and my Auntie Teresa. They had a few kids who are my cousins, one of whom is Dan who is a huge Exeter fan. Keith was a Lincoln fan until the move and now follows both clubs, coming up once or twice a season to watch the Imps. I used to holiday down there a lot and always felt an affinity with them not least because we seemed to always share a kit (check out their early 80s home kit, and again in the early 90s).
I know there was a bit of aggro when they knocked us out back in 2018, a game I watched from my sofa as I’d just had my back operation. I felt we were undone by a lack of options that evening, having gone into the final half of the season with just one striker. We got our revenge last year though, the 3-0 win at their place underlined our serious intent and we robbed them of three points in the return leg. Besides, if there is a bit of needle between us, isn’t it better to have them in our league so we can get worked up about it?
I don’t get that with Northampton. Sure, Keith Curle has never been a friend of ours, but there isn’t an incident which makes me particularly want to beat Northampton more than any other club. Plus, they’re direct, some of their football is a bit ugly and having been purveyors of such a style for a few years, I don’t want to see it again. Exeter try to play the right way and that surely makes for a better game next season. I feel we will do okay against sides who want to play football against us, but we might get bullied a bit, as we did last season (Gillingham and Wimbledon), against more direct sides.
Exeter’s ground is a better visit, albeit a long drive and if we were to get them early doors there might be a bit of late September sun to keep us down there for the weekend. The area around the city is nice, whether north or south coast and a really good away day is usually one that spans a couple of nights. I think there is a more authentic experience to be had down there, rather than the faceless industrial Sixfields.
I won’t be watching the game, for a football fan, I am finding the current situation tough. It’s hard having so little to write about around our own club, but seeing games taking place all around us. The transfer speculation on Twitter is all rubbish, lots of bull accounts randomly linking names with us, nothing worth actually reporting. I just can’t get back into the groove, not for other clubs. Of course, I’m interested in who we get next season, but I won’t dedicate 90 minutes of my life to finding out.
Hopefully, by this time tomorrow, I might be able to start formulating a plot to go down and see the family. Whenever that might be.