Today marks a huge anniversary for the site – we are officially five years old.
The first article I penned which would go on to be part of the Stacey West came on January 21st, 2016, and the inspiration was not one of my heroes. Rather oddly, it was an anti-hero who sparked this site, because the first entry on an early incarnation of the Stacey West was this article which criticised Jon Nolan who had just moved to Grimsby. Within a week I had penned another defending the manager after we had just lost 3-1 to Wrexham, our 11th game without a win. Three days later, I went to my first game since the opening day of the season, and the rest is history, so they say.
That article wasn’t the first I wrote about Lincoln City, I’ve been getting angry, analytical and a little carried away since the days of John Beck. Back then you needed a pen to write to the Echo, and that is how it started. I’ve been writing about football even longer, with a friend pointing out a match report I wrote for Wragby Boys when I was 15 that he still remembers. God bless the Horncastle News.
I had a stint editing the Lincoln City Mad website and wrote a blog for Sky Sports, but this site’s first serious entry came back in the latter stages of Chris Moyses’ tenure as manager. I had moved back up to Lincolnshire in February 2015, but with a 70-hour a week job, six days a week (including Saturday) and buying a house, I convinced myself I could finally shake my Lincoln City addiction and stay busy. As it was, I couldn’t. That one article got a good reception, so on January 27th, I went to watch us beat Guiseley 1-0 on Jamie McCombe’s return to the club. That constituted my first match report, and I’ve been on it ever since.
When I say ‘I’, I have of course had some wonderful people around the site, contributing and enriching the content. It would be remiss to mention everyone here, because I fear I may well miss someone out, but I do have to say particular thanks to Graham Burrell, Malcolm Johnson and Jake Tonge. The site would be far poorer without both of them, as it would all my contributors, but they help keep it going.
There have been some real highlights for me personally, and for the site. The first Football Blogging Awards was a treat, I was nominated for Best New Content Creator, losing out to Gab Sutton in the final (a worthy adversary and deserving winner). Attending the Football Supporter’s Association Awards in 2019 was the pinnacle I think, that was a shortlist created not from votes, but a panel judging quality, and merely to be at the Tower of London was one of the very proudest moments of my life. Anyone can start a blog, but it is not easy to write content which appeals to many, including those outside the club. I don’t want that to sound arrogant, but I do put a lot of work into this site, far more hours than maybe I should, and that evening validated the hard work.
From the humble beginnings of the site, I have found a full-time career. I worked for Football League World for a while because they read my stuff on the Stacey West and approached me as they liked what they read. From there, I joined marketing company Ayima, again through them finding my site in a professional capacity and approaching me to work for them. To Sam Rourke, Martin Crawford and Ash Meikle, thank you. A big shout out has to go to Match Day live host Sam Ashoo too – he helped with the FLW role and obviously then came back for me when our show got launched at the beginning of the year. I also have the absolute pleasure of working with groups of Year Nine students from the Priory Academies, again on the back of the work I’ve done on the site, so thank you to Ian, Steve, Nicky and the rest of the team there.
I have made a lot of friends through the site (a few enemies too, sadly), had some wonderful moments (interviewing Moses Swaibu will always stand out) and used it as a springboard for the podcast too, which is a pleasure to work on with Ben and which goes from strength to strength (and is a whole other story too).
I have tried to innovate on the site, I have tried to give people a variety of content and during the last year, I have tried to keep people engaged and entertained through the usual medium, as well as videos and interactive events such as the Lockdown Quiz.
I have even become an author purely because of the site. Some of my early articles looked back at past Imps, which led to my late 2016 book the A to Z of Lincoln City Players, 1993-2016. That prompted me to get myself motivated to finish my book Suited and Booted, and release season reviews every campaign too. Another childhood dream ticked off thanks to this site, and to you for buying into what I do.
It’s also no secret that the site helped me through a tough time in my personal life, and I guess through my work I ended up alongside Nathan Arnold, standing in front of a group of anxiety sufferers and telling my story in 2017. I’m not going to delve deeply into that, because March sees another, rather less welcome anniversary, and I’ll broach that aspect of my life when it occurs.
Also, thank you to those who choose to support the site via Patreon. I couldn’t keep up with the content without people pledging a small amount each month, and it means a huge amount to me. The site costs money to host and to protect, whilst subscriptions to Wyscout, streaming service Streamyard and Stats FC all chip away at the site revenue. We are also able to support charities both through monthly donations and one-off appeals. I have supported many, from local football clubs to specific events and appeals, from the FPS to the official club charities, but I try not to shout about it too much – I do it because I can and I want to help, not because I want the site’s name up in lights. Thanks to people pledging each month, I can afford to help some, to develop the site, and to cover some of my time away from ‘real’ work! If you do not already, please do consider becoming a patron for as little as $2 a month (it’s an American site) by clicking the button below.
That’s all I wanted to say really. It seems like something of a landmark and although the site didn’t manifest into its current state until February 14th 2017 (the day I got fired from a six-week stint at a company in Grimsby), it all started five years ago today. It’s been a wonderful journey, one that has changed my life, and all I can do is thank you for your support: be it financial, through written contributions or just by reading the articles on here.
Finally, thanks to Fe for her support. I’m not sure many partners would buy me saying ‘it’s my job’ whenever I pause a film to ‘quickly’ pump out an article around a player signing, leaving or being linked with us. She has great patience and trust me when I say without her, there is no site to enjoy.
Up The Imps