The Imps are one attacker short this autumn as Chris Maguire has left the club.
A short, somewhat brutal statement from the club simply said “Lincoln City FC can confirm that midfielder Chris Maguire has left the club by mutual consent.” That was it. No thank you for the memories (or perhaps memory). Well, you know I like to say in 250 words what can be said in 40, so I’ll try and be a little more explanatory. Mind you, I still won’t be going down the ‘goodbye and good luck’ route.
Sometimes, I meet a player and instantly feel I don’t particularly feel a connection, and Chris was one of those players. It was last summer at the sponsor’s event when I met him. He was standing on his own, so I went to say hello and asked what he thought of Lincoln. The least I could have got was a bullsh1t answer like ‘it’s lovely’ or something. I got a shrug. “Not much to do here is there,” he said. I asked if he was moving here, and he shrugged again, adding, “No, I’m in a hotel”. That was more or less it, a bit about tattoos, and he was finished. I saw him up at an event a couple of months later, and he barely said hello, let alone acknowledged we’d met. I chalked it up as shyness; some players don’t like meeting people; I get that.
When he then fell out with fans, twice, alarm bells rang. He is obviously a talented player, and I think the performances he put in get overlooked. He didn’t just turn up for Sunderland, I’ve been guilty of that lazy rhetoric, but he played well in a few games. He didn’t have the goals and assists to show for it, but he wasn’t as bad as some make out. He wasn’t great either; he should have been a leader, someone we could get behind, and instead, he became the most unlike Lincoln City player since Ben Hutchinson. That’s saying something.
I almost felt like there was a route to redemption when Mark Kennedy came in, but there wasn’t. His appearances at the start of this season were a necessity, not a plan for him to come back into the fold. I wagered he’d go before the deadline passed, released on the final day if we hadn’t shifted him, and I really don’t think the betting thing was a catalyst. Sure, it’s a great bargaining tool on our part, but I think he was going anyway.
I can’t help but feel there’s an element of the Kingsley Black 2002/03 here; he had a season in the team when he didn’t get a lot of backing, played a couple of times the next season but left before things got going properly. The difference is Kingsley Black was a bloke I felt tried, but was let down by his legs. Maguire? He did put a shift in at times, but I’m not sure it was his legs that let him down, as much as his general demeanour.
Still, we’ll always have Sunderland away, a frightening example of the player he should have been for us, but aside from one chilly night on Wearside, never was.