It’s that time of the year when you make plans for your money, and then Lincoln City Football Club want you to part with it unexpectedly.
That’s not entirely true, of course – I did expect renewals for season tickets were coming up this month, but with a wedding to pay for this June, I’d gone with the ‘deal with it when it arrives’ approach. So, my guests will now be eating cheese sandwiches and drinking council pop, but I shall be at the Bank for another season.
The early window is usual now, and despite the pain it initially caused some, the rewards for paying early are certainly evident. My renewal has cost me £380 this season, which is a rise but even given the rising cost of living, it is a manageable one. Let me put something into context for you – in 2018/19, I was on the Supporter’s Board, and we were asked what a reasonable price would be for League One football. That was four years ago, and we voted almost unanimously for a £400 season ticket. Given that was four years ago, I hope I’m not breaking my previous confidentiality agreement, but that was our recommendation to the board. £400.
Four seasons later, you’re still not paying what a group of supporters felt was fair four years ago. The board at the time disagreed with us and sought to make the tickets as cheap as possible, and they’re still doing that today. I firmly believe that should be applauded.
They’ve also now designated a cheaper area of the ground, the South Park stand as I know it, where they aim to make life easier for those who struggle with the current season ticket price. We’ve not done tiered pricing before, but it is a good move for a demographic of fans who are close to breaking point right now. Again, fair play to the club.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s now a staged payment option that is not financed. Look, I’m not a club stooge, I’m really not. Recently, I had a discussion with a staff member about something anti-club I’d written, and I know I don’t please them all of the time – I don’t intend to. I say what I see, I write what I feel, and right now, I feel proud that my club has implemented the season ticket pricing and structure it has. it shows empathy at board level with the paying fans and a recognition that times are not easy for many supporters.
I’m a huge Lincoln City shirt fan. I have a collection that runs to more than 60 kits from different seasons, and I always await the release of the retro shirts with bated breath. Obviously, I won’t buy those I already have originals for, which does mean my money stays largely in my pocket. This season, I might be tempted into buying what I once felt was one of the worst away shirts of all time, mainly because it is a cult shirt. Sadly, my wallet will remain closed for the other two.
There are three on here, the bottom right has been out for a while. I was lucky enough to bag that when it came out for £20 in the club shop in the late 90s, and although it’s a little tighter now (must have been a warm wash to shrink it), it’s still a cool shirt.
The one I might buy is the away shirt from 1994/95. It’s a marmite shirt, and I’ve labelled it as the worst of all time in the past, but that’s harsh. Oddly, I’ve gained a strange affection for it recently, and I don’t know why – a bit like the way you begin to warm to old enemies or suddenly feel sympathy for Jeremy Clarkson when you see him as a farmer and not an ignorant gobshite S*n columnist.
I don’t think purple and green go together, but the style and the little touches are just right. Also, it has a fundamental element that the others do not – the sponsor. For a retro shirt, I think the sponsor really makes it. In fact, I don’t even like getting a club shirt without a sponsor! I’ve got a couple of original Imps shirts with the wrong sponsor (youth team versions) or none at all, promotional things, and I just can’t appreciate them like I can with a sponsor.
The next two shirts I have, one is a nice one, the other not for me. The first is from our 1998/99 season, the one we spent in the third tier and my first at that level supporting the club. It’s a shirt that reminds me of John Finnigan and Gavin Gordon, and it varied wildly from the usual red and white stripes, but it really worked. It was originally sponsored by Alstom, hence the issues with having the sponsor on the shirt, but it is also dear to me as it is the first I ever wore as Poacher the Imp.
The final shirt is associated with a horrible time for me – the Phil Stant and Alan Buckley era. I don’t think Buckley managed us for long in this shirt, but it was that season – the season of Marcus Stergiopolous, Paul Miller and Richard Peacock. It’s associated (for me) with struggle. Oddly, so is the other shirt we’ve released – both were seasons we finished in the bottom four of our respective divisions, and therefore are shirts I don’t instantly think of wearing when we do have a retro shirt day. It was also sponsored by Alstom, and is also omitted.
If you’re not quite as finicky as me, and think the non-sponsored shirts are for you, then make sure you head here to secure them. I might well be grabbing the green and p[purple one, but certainly not in the same month as the season ticket coming out. There’s a wedding to pay for, and if I did get the shirts, I’m pretty sure that my guests would stand up to watch us get married and then pay for their own dinner.
Now, there’s an idea…..