Resurgent Imps back from the brink – but lacking the final piece of comeback jigsaw
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LINCOLN CITY tasted Wembley glory this season, for the first time in their proud history.
Okay, it might ‘only’ be the Checkatrade Trophy (or The Auto Windscreens Shield, in old money) but the fans are on cloud nine and flocking back in real numbers.
Make no mistake, under the Cowley brothers this is a club that’s going places. If another promotion doesn’t happen next year then it’s surely in the post.
No-one could argue the players are world-beating individuals. But they pull together, they scrap, they play to their strengths and they’ve always got a plan.
Nicknamed the ‘Imps’ after the carving of a little goblin-type thingy on their magnificent cathedral, the football club is a barometer of the City’s fortunes.
In recent seasons there is no doubt that supine City have turned into the mouse that roared. But what of their women?
Dark days for Lincoln City
Just a few short years ago the future looked very bleak. Political back-biting left Lincoln City clinging stubbornly, resolutely to its small-time status.
Everyone could see what big-name manager Chris Sutton was trying to do. A couple of speedy wingers, big lumps in at centre-half and a sprinkling of quality from the loan market.
But Sutton lost patience with stalwarts like Scott Kerr. Now Scotty was a division four footballer and could pretend to no other office, but his cut-price replacements stank the place out.
When the excellent goalkeeper Rob Burch upped sticks, the writing was on the wall.
In truth a brains trust of Jock Stein, Brian Clough and Bill Shankly wouldn’t have got a tune out of the many hopeless plodders at Sutton’s disposal.
And so it proved when likeable Sutton was forced out under a cloud. A rotating cast of clowns and phonies then occupied the Sincil Park dugout, before ever-dwindling crowds.
Mired in the financial doo-doo, Lincoln slipped out of the basement League with a whimper and weren’t any great shakes on the non-League circuit either.
But the Cowley-fuelled turnaround since those dark days is nothing short of SENSATIONAL.
Sincil Bank is rocking again
Our correspondents were fortunate to be at a packed Sincil Bank on Boxing Day, when the place was bouncing. In fact the only tickets left were in with the noisy rabble of ‘ultras’.
With a two-pint haze scarcely fending off monster gin hangovers, our intrepid reporters feared the worst. The bass drum was eyed with particular suspicion.
But these fair-minded and knowledgeable laddies of the ‘617 Squadron’ won the day. All afternoon they gave nothing but positive, relentless backing to their team.
Stylish young women on the trackside, traipsing back and forth to the burger hut beside the stand, went by completely unwolf-whistled. There was a conspicuous lack of leering.
As it should be, of course, but praiseworthy if you’re long enough in the tooth to remember lower division football crowds in the 1990s.
Only one of the ditties culminated in “Grimsby Town are f***ing s**t”. Strong meat for some, perhaps. But nevertheless proceeding from a sound empirical basis!
The Lincoln City players even ran out to the Dambusters music, harking back to traditional British values of justice and fair play.
Lincoln Ladies: Bring ’em back
So far so good. But not quite everything is rosy in the garden of Impdom. Where is the women’s team?
If this question sounds a bum note or reopens old war wounds then we’re awfully sorry.
Mere mention of this vexed issue will have some at Lincoln City taking off their glasses, pinching the bridge of their nose and emitting a deep sigh.
If they’re holding a pencil they might snap it in two. If they’re sitting down they might even bang their heads off the table in sheer exasperation.
Look, let’s not rake over the whys and wherefores of the original Lincoln Ladies’ demise again.
Suffice to say that most of the actors in that particular drama are now off the scene.
And this isn’t a Manchester United scenario of blatant 70s-style sexism. It’s obviously more nuanced than that.
It’s not personal either. Genial club chairman Bob Dorrian, in particular, has gone into bat for women’s football time and again over the years.
But the fact of the matter is that women’s football in Lincoln will not die. So the City’s football club needs to get in front of the issue and take a leadership role.
The upstanding supporters of this fine, progressive club deserve nothing less.
Lincoln Ladies: The Five Ws Fact Box
Who: Lincoln City Football Club
What: Women’s team
Why: Because irrespective of profit margins and settling old scores, it’s the right thing to do