Jacko Era Mirrors Simmo’s Spring- “Who needs Mourinho”

Peter Jackson (Huddersfield Town & Bradford City) and Gary Simpson (Macclesfield Town) have endured harrowing experiences, to say the least, yet their optimism and appetite for the game has few equals. Both these Yorkshiremen have sent a wave of optimism through Lincolnshire that is so breath-taking there should be a picture of them both in the dictionary under the word Positive. Will we Imps doctor the song that rang round the McAlpine Stadium – “Who needs Mourinho, when we’ve got Jacko! (Simmo)?”, and hope Gary can go one better than the man, the more optimistic Imps, christened the Lord of The Imps?

Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs

No one should ever go to a game never to return home. Jacko however played in the Bradford fire match, when 56 fans lost their lives (54 Bantams and 2 Imps) and did just that as Championship celebration turned to tragedy in minutes. Peter helped to ferry the fans from the stands and has also survived throat cancer. His inspirational, unique, motivational skills, at the heart of the post admin Huddersfield side of 2003/4 saw him defeat the Imps over two legs, before going on to beat Mansfield Town on penalties. The following season the Terriers finished 9th as he was relieved of his position.  At Lincoln he overcame some bitter views from some due to an offside goal, then ensured we were safe before taking his medicine, on the way to beating cancer.  His wave of optimism and, the signing of the magnificent seven, lit up the Imp City even though, Villa friendly and a superb October apart, we failed to deliver.  But what a man, worthy of the giant Lord Of The Imps shirt, funded by fans and Mark Broughton at Sleafordian Coaches, who disapointed many, yet in truth he was guilty of no more than showing Imps we should dare to dream.

Jacko, part showman, part Uncle-style-figure to younger fans, was and is an all round decent human being, who ironically made Richard Butcher his first summer signing in 2009. The Impression he made on my lad and doubtless many others, went way beyond any superficial football requirement.  So often fickle fans remember the bad form, but Jacko is a good egg.

Gary has the same effect, although his aura is more laid back, more homely and humble. It is tough to lose two so close to you, namely the premature deaths  of Keith Alexander and Richard Butcher. One was a mentor, both were massive mates. KA & Butch had shared his happy times at Lincoln, before the fates had intervened to end a positive post admin period for the Imps, that would then end in double tragedy for the trio in just 12 months at Macclesfield. But on the smallest budget in the League Gary (and Vice-Chair Andy Scott – oh for him at Lincoln), fashioned the inner personal pain into a galvanising positive force that avoided relegation and then kicked on.  Player sales and injuries apart he might not have got the job he has always wanted.

Like Jacko, Gary Simpson lights up any room he enters, particularly dressing rooms. Simmo’s edge over Jacko, perhaps since PJ lost Yorath’s services, is tactical, his positivity extends beyond blowing smoke up the right players backside at vital times, because of his ability at the all important training ground. For Jacko, Yorath’s tragic path was perhaps an obstacle too far for a man aptly involved in the care industry, near back-from-the-dead FC Halifax,  the team he finished his playing career at under their previous guise.

How many of us like Mondays?  Yet Gary bounds in, win lose or draw. Don’t look back in anger, look forward and be prepared for the next challenge. Positive mental attitude, may be the term for the consultants, but in football, putting a bad run behind you, or continuing a winning sequence is, as much about kidology as it is belief.  In football things are so fluid that the goalposts move with an alarming degree that shakes a managers credibility with both players and fans. Win 6 you are a god, lose 6 and you are clueless, with those left out turning the barrel faster than a bad apple during a heatwave.

Simmo achieved this after the Holdsworth era, one of inconsistency, unprecedented player changes and a run that would undoubtedly lead to the BSN and financial ruin for the Imps. He shielded the players, gave them a clean slate and ‘wised them up’. More than just the tricks of the trade, he personally scouts the opposition and funds permitting, as at Macc, he would pay into a scouting service that costs very little (4 figures a year, if that). Player always knew their job, but more importantly, what was also realistically expected of them in the face of superior opposition.  Rock, paper, scissors in the face of superior pace, technique, strength, but, in all fairness rarely height inferiority.

The waves of optimism at Lincoln are long overdue  But let us hope he gets a little more bonhomie than that enjoyed by Peter Jackson.  Jacko had not fully recharged, got some bad luck and the fickle fans turned, using the hype against him to quickly pop the bubble. Our current manager will be mindful that fans memories are short, but unlike Jacko he will come back fully recharged. He is also fuelled by unfinished business and a desire to see the fruition of a dream forged in happy times, that two of his kindred spirits can only look down upon nowadays.

The Imps had no money then,  but we had a camaraderie second to none that took all by surprise as we surged to the play-offs at Cardiff. Belief is an incredible thing. It sustains, it inspires and it teaches us to smile through the adversity. Those who aim high may fail to touch the sky, but they have a better time of things and will always do better than those who expect the seeds to germinate with the first watering or do not even try.


Posted on June 2, 2013, in Ex Imps, Manager History, Writers - Neil Gentleman-Hobbs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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