The Imps fan group 617 Squadron have launched a campaign looking to highlight the continued struggles lower league clubs are experiencing at present.
Before we go into that, didn’t it hit home yesterday? For those who watch Match Day Live with myself and Sam Ashoo, the hour or so before the game must surely have delivered a real dose of reality. Watching us beat Forest Green (six times) over the last few years, in front of a packed Sincil Bank teeming with passion and atmosphere brought a lump to my throat. Usually, when I see Nathan Arnold rounding the Ipswich keeper in the 2016 FA Cup Third Round, I get goosebumps at the commentary. This time, as the Coop Stand erupted, I genuinely felt like crying. I’m not an outwardly emotional man, but watching those clips drove home to me exactly what we’re missing. It isn’t the football itself, we can see that (or some of us can, at times) on iFollow. It isn’t the experience and exposure to the squad, the club’s media output has allowed us to feel some connection where once one did not exist.
No, what we miss is the experience of being there, not being an observer but being a part of it. Belonging. Sincil Bank is where I feel i belong, where my thoughts evaporate for hours, my worries and concerns, even me as a single entity. it is all irrelevant as we become one, experiencing the highs as a single unit. It brings a chill to my spine just writing it and remembering that feeling when a goal goes in, that collective joy. You don’t get that on your sofa, all you do is frighten the dog and have the neighbours remarking ‘Lincoln won yesterday then’ over the fence when you cross paths Sunday morning. It might be football, but it isn’t my football.
What can we do about it? Well, it isn’t just us not being there that is the problem here; there is a real threat that our club could die. I’m being brutal here, I know, but that is the plain and simple fact. The crux of the issue isn’t just that we’re not allowed into the ground, but that there is no rescue package, that that incompetence of football’s governance, and the country, is throttling our club and many more like us to a slow and painful death. Sure, winning yesterday might ease the financial burden a little, like finding a fiver in the street will help you pay your £500 per month mortgage. What we need, is action.
That brings me back round to the 617’s campaign. They get it as much as anyone, that sense of belonging. From the core group of seven back in 2012 they have created that community within a community and in doing so, have grown with the club. I recall plenty of resistance to them back in the day, moving blocks and all that, but Sincil Bank wouldn’t be the same without them, the last decade (almost) wouldn’t be the same without them. Now they’re using their voice to campaign for lower league football.
Details of the group’s campaign can be tracked by following this Twitter page, and this Facebook page also. It is imperative that as fans, we do not sit back and let government and the Premier League argue amongst themselves while we die.
Fans have the power, which is why campaigns such as this, and that of the collective of clubs backing Save Our Clubs get the full support of all fans. Sitting back and saying nothing is criminal as a lower league football fan. even if you simply give the social media accounts a follow and voice your concern, that is a start. However, if you want to make a difference, use your voice, today. The 617 believe writing to your MP is going to make a difference and from a meeting, I had in midweek, a leading fan engagement expert feels the same way. Why not message your local MP this morning, telling them why they need to act now? If you wish to, I have included a handy guide to local MP’s and their contact details below, just to get you started. If you do message them, be sure to include your postcode and full name, as they have to verify that the message comes from a constituent rather than a random. I have included the list below, but if you are unsure which area you fall into, this website will confirm who you should write to.
If you are old school and want to write a letter instead of an email, simply put your MP’s name at the top and use this address – House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Act now, get behind the campaigns and don’t let football go down without a fight. If you choose to watch a Premier League game on TV this afternoon instead of writing to your MP about Lincoln, I’m afraid you are a part of the problem.
Don’t be a part of the problem, be part of the solution.
Boston and Skegness – Matt Warman firstname.lastname@example.org
Gainsborough – Sir Edward Leigh email@example.com
Grantham and Stamford – Gareth Davies firstname.lastname@example.org
Lincoln – Karl McCartney email@example.com
Louth and Horncastle – Victoria Atkins Victoria@victoriaatkins.org.uk
Sleaford and Hykeham – Dr Caroline Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
South Holland and The Deepings – Sir John Hayes email@example.com