Four Ways England Remind Me Of Lincoln City

Sunderland at home - Courtesy Kevin Williams

I promised not to do any Euro content here. I’m a Lincoln City man, and that’s that.

I find watching England weird these days. Don’t get me wrong – I was once a flag-wearing, face-painting patriot of the highest order. I threw a barbeque full of hot coals at a non-footballing friend the day we lost to Portugal in the World Cup because he mocked England. I painted my face for the Italy game in 2012, and in Euro 96, I cried under the pool table in the Adam thanks to Gareth Southgate.

Something changed between 2012 and 2014. I didn’t even watch the Costa Rica game in that World Cup, and I remember a complete detachment from England in 2016 after the Iceland game. I think it has a bit to do with the faux emotion people attach to England. Back then, I hated the papers, but now that rubbish is everywhere. You turn on social media, and someone who has never been in contact with real football suddenly acts as an expert. I hate it, beers-in-the-air celebrations, and all that. Rubbish.

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That said, I’m English and a football fan, so I get drawn to the games. I know nothing of top-flight football (I didn’t even know who Marc Guehi was before the Serbia game) and I feel like me offering opinion on something I don’t know about is false. I do know football, but not so much England.

I do know Lincoln City, and I do know I saw some things in England’s performance tonight and over the last couple of weeks that gave me strong Lincoln vibes. I’m not talking about current Lincoln, but more from over the past few years. I thought I’d do an article on them instead.

Always Going Backwards

When Lincoln does it, I’m happy to talk about going backward to go forward and all that. Under Michael Appleton and Mark Kennedy, I often said retaining possession was good. It is – if you’re Lincoln and fighting for a place in the league. If you’re England, with some of the best players in the world, it drives me mad.

Credit Graham Burrell

A guy in front of me gets angry at Lincoln games, shouting at us for going back to the keeper. I remember from a corner he would scream ‘keeper’s on’, and me and Matt would laugh at him.

I screamed that tonight, and bugger me, ten seconds later, Pickford had it. Madness.

Nonchalont Penalty

Remember John Akinde? I used to clench every time he nonchalantly strode up to a football for a penalty. I think he always scored (bar once), but he terrified me every time. It was like no caring was the trick to scoring.

Ivan Toney didn’t even look. Now that’s channeling his inner John Akinde, isn’t it?

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Defensive Forward

Again, here I am defending something Lincoln did and calling England for it, like the sort of hypocrite I like to avoid. In 2020/21, I would praise Tom Hopper for his work ethic, how he would defend with the rest of the team, how he’d drop deep to help out. It irked me that I’d see him on the wing with the ball helping link up, but nobody would be in the box. I also used to get a bit annoyed that he would occasionally wait for a cross rather than make a run. However, I appreciated his qualities and he was the only ‘real’ centre forward we had.

Credit Graham Burrell

It wasn’t like he was doing all that, and when we needed to be a bit more expressive, make a few runs and maybe have a striker stay up top we could bring on, I dunno, Ivan Toney, or Ollie Watkins, was it?

Getting Results

This is definitely a Mark Kennedy Lincoln thing. People would leave Sincil Bank saying that the football was boring and not entertaining, and I would say it is a results business. We might think football is all about us as fans, but it isn’t. It’s about points and prizes; it’s about winning (or drawing) however you can. We went 10 unbeaten under Kennedy, and people complained. He took us to 11th after the abysmal end to Appleton’s rein, and he did it without flair, shots, or possession. I would argue that we were on the right track until I was blue in the face.

Credit Graham Burrell

Does that sound familiar? Lack of attacking intent? Playing with the handbrake on? Getting results, progressing in tournaments, and still people are not happy? In Kennedy’s defense, he didn’t have the players to do much else, but there are definite parallels.


Let’s say you’re at a concert in London, and you miss the train. You get a bus to the next town, then hitch a lift up the A1. You get to Newark and jog along the A46 before a mate picks you up and drops you off at the end of your road. You nip to the pub, have a few beers, and must be carried home.

It doesn’t matter how you get home; all that matters is that it’s coming home.