Initial Reflections On West Ham Defeat

I’ll do my usual match report tomorrow the nuts and bolts of a game that unfolded in front of a packed Sincil Bank.

It’ll be the usual analysis of players, tactics, and observations from the game itself. You know the drill by now: I’ve done enough of them, and enough of you keep coming back to read what I have to say. I think we know where we are in terms of my match reports, articles in which I try to position myself as a neutral and break down the game. They deal with the sport, but sometimes football isn’t just a sport. Sometimes, it’s a moment.

Life is a series of moments, that’s all. It’s a journey from one memory to another, through birthdays, weddings, and special occasions, each linked by the repetitive habits of getting up, going to work and coming home. Life is both beautiful and mundane, repetitive and unique. Without the bits in the middle, the moments would not stand out. In the same way, the big wins in League One wouldn’t be so memorable if we won every game. We sometimes even live each other’s moments, like the guests at our wedding this summer, or we relive our moments through others; Marcus Clayson’s trip to Koln this week made me relive my trip there with Chris last year. Why do I suddenly go into philosophical thoughts rather than football analysis? Because tonight was one of those moments.

Credit Graham Burrell

It was a game of football that became a moment; it had many of the ingredients needed – the poignant tribute to Colin Murphy before the game, the packed crowd, the floodlights illuminating the stage and 22 players putting on a show worthy of twice the ticket price. It had the passion as two committed sets of fans watched on and, ultimately, the pride at a performance as good as any you’ll see from Lincoln City this season. It was a game that stands out because of the level of opposition, because of the shared 90-minute moment and because of how the red and white shirts we placed our trust in delivered in terms of performance, if not result.

I can dissect the game tomorrow, but I can not do it justice with words. It was like fine art, a product simply there to be enjoyed in the most simplistic form without being bogged down in analysis, stats or punditry. Football (like art) is beautiful because it is an escape; it makes you feel something. When people self-harm, they do so because they need to feel something in their lives, anything that makes them know they’re alive. It’s why people bungee jump, why philanderers move from one dead relationship to another. We’re all searching for something that makes us feel; it might be at the bottom of the glass, rolled up in a rizla or ingested nasally through a rolled-up ten-pound note.

Tonight made me feel.

Tonight was a reminder of what football has the power to do. It had me invested, off my seat, and at times with my head in my hands. My life is pretty good, but even if it were shit, I’d have forgotten everything for 90 minutes or more, thanks to the power of football. Sincil Bank used to be my escape, even in the days when we did not have such grand occasions. Now, I don’t need an escape, so it serves as my drug instead. Tonight’s hit was as pure as the driven snow.

Pride is an uplifting feeling, and taking pride in something is a wonderful experience. To feel pride is such a gift, and the Lincoln City players, staff, officials and fans made me feel that tonight. I burst with pride as we made our way through the fan zone, and I heard a broad cockney accent coming from a claret and blue-clad supporter saying, ‘They’ve got a tidy facking set up here’. I felt pride at the heartfelt applause for the first manager I ever loved at Sincil Bank. I felt pride as Lucas Fabianski clawed away a header, and Lukas Jensen threw himself in the way of what seemed like a certain goal. I felt pride at the entire Coop Stand singing ‘We are Imps’ as West Ham celebrated their goal. I felt pride walking back to the car, surrounded by thousands of fans, all seemingly as delighted with the performance as me.

All night I felt pride, surrounded by my friends, my dad and what could best be termed as my football family.

So we didn’t win. Sure, that stings a bit because we probably deserved to come away with the lottery of penalties, but it wasn’t to be. £170m of talent came to Sincil Bank and turned over a squad assembled for what? £400,000 perhaps? What a source of immense pride that is. Our starting XI probably cost 0.23% of theirs, and I’m here getting philosophical about things. We’ve lost three games in eight days, and I feel as happy and optimistic about the future as at any point since the Covid season ended.

Tonight was one match in a season, one moment in time. Whatever the outcome, it would be a memory worth holding onto, but the performance has made it something so much more. The only thing missing was the result, and football can be a results business. Almost all of the time, it is a results business.

But sometimes it’s more.

Sometimes, it’s a feeling, a connection, a togetherness.

Sometimes, it’s just about being proud of your club.

Up the Imps.

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