Clamour For Tickets Means Something is Going Well

Credit Graham Burrell

How do you know when your football club is doing well? Is it by the league table? Is it performances and results on the pitch? Is it the bank balance?

Nope, it’s none of these things. You know your club is doing well when they get a big cup draw, and social media is awash with a willy-waving contest to see who the biggest fans are. That’s how you know. In that respect, Lincoln City are as big right now as at any point since Danny Cowley left, because the battle for the biggest fan has got underway as West Ham tickets have sold out.

Were you at Notts County and Sheffield United? No? But you do have a West Ham ticket? Bandwaggoner. But wait, you went to those games but didn’t do Shrewsbury away in the cup two years ago? Does that make you better or worse than someone who was at the first Milk Cup game against West Ham in the eighties? Hang on though – you didn’t make that game, but your first game was in 1973? Does longevity trump regular attendance now? What if you have been going since 1987, but have gone to every game? Are you better than someone who started going in 1954, hasn’t been for a few years but, in a shocking instance of coincidence, suddenly feel the West Ham game is the one to get you back into the club?

Were you at this game, standing next to Andy Pearson?

It’s all rubbish really. You can’t measure how much of a fan someone is. There’s no such thing as a bandwaggoner, not really. It stands to reason there would be higher demand for West Ham tickets because, in the scheme of things, they’re as big a club as almost any we could have drawn. Arguably, only the two Manchester teams, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Spurs would have been a bigger draw. Why? Because for many West Ham represents East London, they represent something traditional and grounded about football. They’re the working-class team, even if they have a fan-unfriendly new stadium. Hell, even I watched their European final last season and felt their win was something worth raising a glass to. If Liverpool, Man Utd, or one of the others are in a European final, I usually do something else. Anything else.

Therefore, it’s no surprise there’s a clamour for tickets. They’re a big club at the Bank, Premier League royalty. When was the last time we had a champion of Europe playing competitively at the Bank just months after their triumph? If we didn’t have a swish ticketing system, the queue would be halfway down Scorer Street. Of course, the real issues began when we got Arsenal away. I remember queuing for my ticket, and a guy turned up in a van wanting to buy some. He pushed in, then got angry with staff when he couldn’t get tickets. ‘I’ve been coming here since I was 10’ he raged, after trying the wrong door to get access to the office. ‘I deserve a ticket’. No mate, you don’t. Those issues carried on when we played Everton in one of the cups, I forget which.

The greeting last time the Hammers came to town

Do you know who deserves a ticket? Season ticket holders. That’s why they get tickets first. Then there are the new membership schemes (scams if social media is to be believed), designed to appeal to those supporters who cannot get to every game. There are two levels as well, so even if you can only get to six games a season (I bet that doesn’t include MK Dons on a Tuesday night), you still get priority. Seriously, what more can the club do? I hear stuff like ‘they should reward those who went to Sheffield United and Notts County’ – they do, by offering a silver membership. If you went to those games, it’s likely you’re going to get to six league games at home, so why would you not buy one? Unless you’re a cup glory hunter, then why should you get priority over someone who endured Cambridge at home last season?

The squabbling may continue, or it may not. I’m lucky in that I can afford a season ticket each season, but I do strongly feel the club does what it can to accommodate as many supporters as possible. I feel for supporters who have not got a ticket, but trust me, the West Ham game isn’t the only time you’ll get a good spectacle at the Bank this season. If you did miss out, perhaps consider coming to Cheltenham the week after. Why? Because some supporters who first came in 2016/17 have since got season tickets, or memberships, and are now right at the front of the queue. Games like West Ham put us in the spotlight and get the excitement levels up around the city, but the way things are panning out, the league games might be just as exciting this season.

Disclaimer – none of this applies to my mate Dayle. He got a ticket despite giving me constant stick for watching Lincoln whilst he spent 25 days watching the Ashes, only for it to be a draw thanks to one afternoon of rain. You can give him as much abuse as you like on social media here @dayle1978 even if his Twitter does look like that of an 85-year-old who struggles with technology.