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Reflections on Lincoln - Part 2
By: Chris Smith
Date: 24/11/2009 (Last updated: 13/12/2009)
HAVING negotiated the weekend drivers, we did manage to arrive in Lincoln in good time. I got the excellent Lincoln programme at the ground before we headed off to a pub on the High Street.
The Lincoln issue has a good historical pull out inside and takes you back to the very early years of the game. It also dispenses with the services of Leigh Edwards who seems to be in every other programme so you pay to read the same stuff every fortnight.
The Wetherspoons had a few Town fans inside but there wasn't any sign of a large Town following. Having prised ourselves off the spoggy that the locals apparently decorate their furniture with, we made our way to the Treaty of Commerce which appealed to the Real Ale T***s I was accompanying. In a rare moment of generosity, I got two beers and a diet coke in to be charged nearly £8. I nearly needed alcohol myself to calm me down. I'm glad I stopped. It would take only a few years to drink my house away at that price.
Whilst the pub was empty when we got in, a good crowd of professional matchday drinking Town fans came in. Whilst I've taken the pledge, I'm not antagonistic towards booze and it was good to see some younger lads (well, 20s and 30s) getting stuck into it in a manner reminiscent of the London Mariners at their peak and at a similar age. High praise indeed lads. We met some of these at Shipley station a few years ago, on the way back from Bratfuh and their dedication to the wider enjoyment of a day out was impressive. We got chatting and put a few names to faces over the day, including BP Vicar. Goolemariner came up with a great name for them when we discussed their wholehearted approach to a good lunchtime-Fine Young Guzzlers.
I have fond memories of this pub as Tony and I had changed trains here on the way to a game at Notts County in 1985. As Notts Police were busy abusing their power during the Miners’ Strike, we broke our trip at Lincoln and got tickets from there so we weren't obvious arrivals from Grimsby and wouldn't be detained at Nottingham station as was usual. After peering through the window before opening time, a fed up landlord opened up ten minutes early for us so we ended up shovelling two down before official doors. In those days of restricted hours, there was nothing more satisfying than an illegal drink.
Given the virtual absence of football fans around the city centre, I was surprised to see such a large Town following when we got to Sincil Bank. It was my idea to go in the front row which was the only obvious place with empty seats. I justified this choice by saying it afforded terrace boogie room when we scored, which we unfortunately didn't. Even more unfortunately, it bloody rained and we copped for it.
Town played some good football in the first half. I would say breathtaking even, as the rare sight of blue shirts passing to each other was noted. Sadly, there were some baffling decisions from the linesman and I had to agree with a nearby fan who thought said official was guessing his decisions. I'm not really one for having a go at officials, but I have started to feel we can't afford to lose any more points as a result of their errors. I try and keep it low key but must be one of the few folk who watched Full Metal Jacket and thought it was great material for a match official piss-take. “Just what is your major malfunction lino?” and “Are you s******g me?” were added to “Even the assessor thinks you're ****”. However, numerous poor calls and a penalty turn down led to others letting their feelings more plainly known. I can't say that I blame them. A home fan wearing white was meanwhile getting abuse off the Town section. What is it about wearing white at a football game that turns fans into morons? I've even undergone the mandatory change when making this unfortunate fashion choice (some would say I didn't change-I was always like that). A neighbour, who knew Lincoln well, recognised the fan concerned and opined on this occasion, he hadn't needed a white top either to evolve into the sad unfortunate that he was.
It was nice to talk to Mighty Mariner himself who had arrived from New York that morning and had been on the receiving end of Big Daddy treatment from the two Imps mascots who apparently weigh in at 16 stone apiece. Mighty is a really enthusiastic Town fan and had some interesting insights on the managerial candidates. I'm not sure we drove him off as his place was taken in the second half by two long standing London Mariners, Rob Moss and Giles. I've known Rob nearly thirty years and Giles nearly twenty so the matchday experience is always enhanced by their presence. We realised long ago that you need a sense of humour to watch Town.
Unfortunately Town couldn't produce the goal to justify the soaking we got in the front row. I would have loved a late goal as I really think that it could jump start our season. To be quite honest, apart from Sweeney’s goal line clearance, I wasn't particularly concerned about City. Whilst it is now three league games unbeaten, it is far longer without a win and we need to pick up wins at places where the other team is also struggling. We still don't look like scoring although there are obviously some signs of greater resilience. It’s also a great shame for a loud and vocal Town support. We would have blown the roof off if we'd scored.
Lincoln has the feel of a community club and I quite like their ground although the view from the Coop stand is restricted if a few stand, which leads to a knock-on effect. Like Town, Lincoln have a long history and whilst not as illustrious as ours, they've played at the second tier. They were also victims of the Bradford fire and despite being relegated from the league two seasons later, they found the determination to get straight back. The relegation of either team this season would be a real shame and loss to football as a whole.
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