Arsenal talent-spotting guru Arsene Wenger is not the only manager who knows the French football set-up and its incredible wealth of cheap talent. Arsenal of course have a rumoured nine-figure war chest, but time, experience and the financial climate should see another lad who knows his onions, Gary Simpson follow the Wenger brick road and even the odds a tad for the cash-strapped Imps side.
Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Arsene has a greater pressure to deliver this season, even if he is not as spoilt for choice as the media might suggest. Oh the potential column inches afforded by money in the bank boasts and billionaire Kroenke finally threatening to deliver the dream to those renewing season tickets in the Emirates Colosseum. Let us not forget the extended family, woe betide any flagging from the faithful flock, who have an appetite for merchandise and subscription opportunities even if we cannot satisfy our desire for football in the flesh and beyond.
I am no glory hunter, indeed many would suggest I am quite the reverse. As a season-ticket holder for 14 years (my sons first memory was the first half of the double at Highbury in 97/98), before moving up, it is clear the Gooner sense of frustration is on a par with that of an Imp, even if the zeros on a Lincoln cheque are normally on the pence side of the full stop. Simmo has it easy then one feels, keeping the Imps up is expected and a play-off tilt would be the dream and he has just £450,000 to do it unless two transfer windfalls come in to round if up to just shy of five! Yet both managers do have things in common and are most certainly prepared to play the waiting game it seems.
Both are undoubtedly talent-spotting guru’s, with horses for courses dictating that the concept of thoroughbred is relative. Simmo may have been outbid on 3-4 players in England, whilst Wenger’s own handicap chase is world-wide, but even if the former does not have even the copper in comparison to the Arsenal mountain of gold, the financial climate within the UK and Europe is playing into the hands of two managers who can sort the wheat from the chaff. Poles apart perhaps, but pound for Euro a young Patrick Vieira compares favourably to Mo Fofana at Lincoln, who Simmo feels is worth a new deal.
The Transfer window is a circus, a mad scramble that can lead to expensive miss-fitting Premiership Princes and comparatively cheaper Conference clowns. It may be in full swing, but so is the poker face nature of the waiting game, whether the target is playing in the Premier or the Football League (granted the Imps sphere of interest is limited to Leagues One and Two). The nature of the professional contract means that players are not only paid until the end of June, but they also get another month on top to boot. This means many will chance what is colloquially known as the trial season in July in order to get fixed up in August even if the anti can range from peanuts to two hundred ‘longuns’ or bags of sand a week.
Again it is a case of hold or fold for the agent and the manager, but that is when the real bargains can be had. No transfer fee can mean a bigger signing on fee at the top of the pyramid down to ‘chucking in board and keep’ at the BSP end of things. No, there is absolutely no Truth in Simon Yeo getting a caravan (giving rise to his “Yes but my caravan is bigger than your house” retort to some unfair long nosed gypsy jibes). Smashing lad who also fought for his country as well as playing in the Chester/Wrexham derby.
Both Arsene Wenger and Gary Simpson are familiar with the cost of European players compared to the inflated price of their UK counterparts. Although the PFA have tried to do something about the cheap imports, that are also having an effect on the England team, the incredible amount of talent in and around the Parisian Périphérique makes the mind boggle. The French equivalent of the M25, it has far fewer top level teams than London, with plenty of players holding EEC passports. Although Arsene Wenger appears to have the pick of the crop there are literally hundreds of Tony Diagne’s out there to chose from.
Simpson nearly brought three French lads on board before the loan window closed last term, but in his first transfer window proper you can bet he will sample the seedlings. The STMI money is on a striker that will easily replace Vadaine Oliver, a midfielder and maybe even a centre-half that could even dwarf big Bad Ben Futcher, The ex-Imp who blocks out the sky. As for Arsene and Arsenal, please deliver this year, though the football has always been worthy of any wait with the treasure in the weekly, princely passing pleasure.
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.
Gary Simpson may have completed the first part of his mission, but he will be up at the crack of dawn today, as he and the chairman thrash out a budget for him to emulate what Graham Taylor has done at Watford, Aston Villa and of course Lincoln City, nearly four decades ago. Gary never got the credit he deserved at Peterborough and Macclesfield, but did Taylor at Wolves and England? Yet both are not ones that look back in anger when there is so much to look forward to. Neither Taylor nor Simpson were popular when they were given the Imps job – hardly a bed of roses for any managerial reputation. But the two are unique and brave, who do not crave a big budget, just a competitive one, plus a phone and a group of players prepared to listen, learn and believe in the common cause. They are straight talking old school and rarities nowadays – They are the Enticers.
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If one is fortunate enough to meet Graham Taylor, the warmth makes up for any, almost instant, realisation that he had to adapt and bite his tongue in the face of the media over the years. Yet he captivates, freely giving honest informed opinion, with an earthy charm took him from Worksop, to Watford and even the England job. He is a giver, both to the people’s game he respects as well as the charity sector. Did he, perhaps deservedly, overachieve? Never on a player level, that is to say, when he had day to day relationships with men in boots as opposed to a posse of suits.
Simpson and Taylor’s style is very much one of mud in the studs management, either at the training ground or clocking up the miles to find a gem. Both would shine their shoes on the back of their trousers before going in the posh bit after standing out in the rain to get a run-down in the flesh of the next weeks opposition. Bob Dorrian was probably smiling not so much at Saturday’s result, but more the recent drop in petrol prices last week.
So to phase two, post the great escape that saw 20 points garnered. It will begin this morning with a visit, not so much cap in hand, to see the Chairman. Not for the sacking that one of the many perpetual knockers suggested, but to discuss how to take the Mighty Imps forward. The Chairman appears prepared to listen and share the vision. he should after seeing almost 1,000 fans descend on a pub ground for a desperate last throw of the dice yesterday. Perhaps The Rise of The Imps is at hand fellow Imps? We have a manager and Chairman that want to see our club achieve the potential only we Imps seem to see and understand.
When Gary was given this job, he knew the financial pitfalls, the dressing-room disharmony and where the League form was taking us. But this was a challenge he relished because this was a club ingrained within him. Conscience, not money, would guide his decision and motives, with the shoulders and souls of Keith Alexander and Richard Butcher always there in spirit to inspire and guide him.
With the moaners removed from the squad and the addition of three more players (two really as Diagne became injured), he faced ‘more of the same’ comments from clueless individuals within the media and the message boards. Simmo accepts that you pay your money and make your choice, entitled to your opinion and the use of your voice, but in reality this is agenda based and, one that will never see our beloved club move forward.
It is playground stuff and the Imps in that dressing room have learned not to look back in anger, but at the current job in hand. Listening to the Chairman on the radio yesterday, it sounds as if Gary will get the realistic budget he needs to put us there or thereabouts next season. But we have to look a little further back than Keith Alexander, for what Gary is all about. Simmo is certainly part Colin Murphy and, part John Beck, but perhaps more importantly, he has The Enticer look about him. For like Graham Taylor OBE, Gary has both the skill to entice and then build a player that he can sell on for millions. That and fans through the turnstiles are what our football club needs.
Let us hope today’s discussions are fruitful then. The Fans have shown we are keen to respond, but the board need to do some enticing as well.
Gary Simpson has been a breath of fresh air at Lincoln City since notching a mind numbing 17 points with the goalposts moving by another point for Saturday. Yet in an incredible twist of fate he could have taken over the job at Stockport, the side currently occupying the final position in the bottom four.
Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Gary’s deep understanding of Impdom and his desire to give the fans the success their loyalty and passion deserve, led to him not putting in his CV as Darije Kalezić got the job unopposed. Despite his strong Cheshire connections, there was only one mission. Simmo also turned down the chance to join a good mate, who moved between two League clubs, just as he received his Imp calling. Sometimes you keep the faith and have to wait for the football fates, in order to start a project that will hopefully see Simmo fulfil a life ambition.
Stockport travel to Kidderminster tomorrow hoping for an inspiring win if they are to have any chance of overhauling Tamworth, Gateshead or Lincoln City, in order to stay in the BSP. We at STMI do hope they can avoid the drop, but naturally not at our expense. The sage in Simmo is mindful that our superior goal difference, 4 goals, can be wiped out by the footballing fates, but results elsewhere will also have to go against us. Gateshead will fancy Ebbsfleet and Tamworth should beat Woking, suggesting Simmo’s loyalty will be tested until the final whistle on the last day of the season.
But Simmo will be well backed by the Hordes of Impdom, set to take between 700 and 1,000 to Hyde tomorrow. That is magnificent support following on from the huge numbers that went to Nuneaton and Alfreton. Crowds are also close to the 3,000 barrier at the Bank as the belief returns. That is outstanding support, something Simmo knows will be the linchpin to him hopefully opening a bottle of Magners and toasting a job well done on Saturday night.
|SATURDAY’S DAY OF RECKONING|
|Alfreton Town||v||Forest Green||17:15|
BSP Standings 18/4/13
|3||Newport County AFC||45||25||10||10||85||57||28||85|
|8||Forest Green Rovers||45||18||11||16||62||47||15||65|
|24||AFC Telford United||45||6||17||22||52||75||-23||35|
Fortunately the manager of the month award looks to be going to Cox of Mansfield Town (who will hope Burr at Kidderminster Harriers gets it) as Simpson’s Sincil Soldiers aim to add the Cambridge scalp to a haul of 13 points from his first 8 games at the helm. The 4 wins in the last half dozen, where the Imps were also the better side against Wrexham and Macclesfield, have seen our club move from certain to go down, to in with more than a fighting chance of staying up. And these Imps certainly have fight and a desire to bring the fans flocking back to Sincil Bank in their thousands.
Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Although the Imps sit 15th, the spectre of relegation has not yet been banished from the Bank. Just 3 points separate us from fourth from bottom Stockport and 5 from battling Barrow, yet the Imps have 9 points from the last three games, with destiny well and truly back in our own hands.
No one knows the potential of this football club and its true meaning to the Imps faithful more than Gary, spurred on by the memory of late mates Keith Alexander and Richard Butcher. But the gaffer will be quick to credit the players, something so central to the make up of a man with mud in his studs and a working class ethos with a capital ‘W’. His job is to mould more than scold, to cajole and install a culture that makes his soldiers want to give 100% for the shirt, the club and those that make the turnstiles click. For the fans are the lifeblood of Lincoln City and every football club, but hereabouts putting in a shift is recognised and respected.
But credit where credit is due. Gary has reversed the slide, restored the pride and invited the fans back for the ride. The camaraderie, all-for one ethos and pride for the stripes has breathed fresh life into a club and a City that deserves better. The green shoots of an Imp spring is starting to wake a club that has slumbered for far too many a decade. The loyalist fans in football are begining to respond. Over 400 witnessed defeat at Nuneaton, but 456 (at least) kept the faith to reap the rewards of the battle of the aptly named Impact Arena at Alfreton. In Simmo it appears we trust, although he and we know the battle is far from over. STMI urge to Imps to flock to the cause on Monday to make survival almost certain.
|Sat 30 Mar|
|Alfreton Town||0||–||2||Lincoln City|
|Franklin (7)||Hobson (41)
|Tues 26 Mar|
|Braintree Town||0||–||3||Lincoln City|
|Diagne (26 & 74)
|Sat 23 Mar|
|Lincoln City||3||–||2||AFC Telford|
Taylor (77 & 88)
|Sat 16 Mar|
|Tues 12 Mar|
|Westwood (34 og)||Ormerod (61)
|Sat 9 Mar|
|Power (Pen 14)
|Wed 6 Mar|
|Garner (47 og)
|Power (Pen 23)||1,557|
|Sat 2 Mar|
|Johnson (2)||Oliver (25)||1,766|
The Road Ahead
|Mon 01st||Lincoln City||v||Cambridge Utd||15:00|
|Sat 06th||Kidderminster||v||Lincoln City||15:00|
|Tue 09th||Luton||v||Lincoln City||19:45|
|Sat 13th||Lincoln City||v||Tamworth||15:00|
|Sat 20th||Hyde||v||Lincoln City||17:15|
BSP Standings 31/3/13
|4||Newport County AFC||39||21||8||10||74||53||21||71|
|6||Forest Green Rovers||40||18||10||12||59||40||19||64|
|24||AFC Telford United||42||5||16||21||49||72||-23||31|
Just before we get into this the second of the 3 Christmas Derby Kings , a quick pause please Imps for 2 ex Peterbough United, but forever Imps, Keith Alexander and Richard Butcher who both figured in this one. Thoughts to their families and Gary Simpson the Macclesfield Town manager who was up at the Cathedral on Monday, lighting a candle, laying a wreath and paying his dues to a mentor and a mate.
Amoo! Amoo! Amoos on fire –Posh 1 Imps 2 A view from the Moyes Terrace (23/12/06)
Deehan & Schofield’s master plan to replace suspended Frecktanian, the doyen of the Imps four midfield musketeers, with oft-called lightweight Ryan ‘Jade Goody tamer’ Amooooooooooo acting as the central fulcrum for a change, worked a treat. A faltering 4-4-2 became 4-3-3 as we went atPeterboroughex Imps KA, Simmo et al in their own back yard full of festive glee. The message that ‘The Imps are going up’ must have carried down every Chimney in Cambridgeshire. Such was the cacophony of noise bellowed from the Moyes Terrace by 2000 of the 2,323 jubilant SantaImps.
First the Teams & schemes
Holden Branston Arber Morgan
Newton Smith Butcher (RIP) Gain
Substitutions: Huke (Y) Replaced Newton, 78 Benjamin Replaced Branston, 87 Day Replaced Smith
Substitutes: Opara, Stirling, Day, Benjamin, Huke
The Mighty Imps 4-3-3
Eaden Morgan Brown (Y) Beevers (Y)
Kerr Amoo Nicholson
Forrester (Y) Stallard Gritton
Substitutions: 61 Hughes Replaced Gritton On 76 Moses replaced kerr
Substitutes: Rayner, Birley, Mettam, Moses, Hughes
To the game fellow footy fans to the game…………..
The Imps have now dominated their last four games and just perhaps they got all their bad luck in that farce at Chester. Let us hope – and feel free to write a letter to Santa if you wish – the luck that has eluded them since the kiss of death Manager of the Month award for October, has still not returned. Boston be warned this was hard fought, and a Monster monster win for the Pride of Lincolnshire!
A battle of the Somme style whipping, saw Santa Imps and beautiful football, rise from the trenches and burst through Keith’s new troops after an early heavy bombardment, to fight for the right to play poetic passing fuotball, thanks to the mincemeat sweet feet of the one they call Ryan Amoo, a lover not a fighter. Perhaps it was the cacophonous carols ringing from the Santa Imps that saw a Posh wimper at the beginning of the second half as the evenly balanced match swung the Imps was again and for good once the away following had sucked the winner home. They battled hard, tried to out muscle us, but the Doorman’s first 11 with guest appearances from ex Imps including Simon Yeo, had to concede the football team won. Keith will continually try to prove a point to us that his teams can play football, but rest assured Posh fans you’ll be back to route one on Tuesday. We Imps meanwhile seem sublimely blessed by Schofields vision of the beautiful game. Hard hats chaps it’s an incoming from Sterling!
Mazza did his bit, again looking to throw to start moves. Nicholson put in his sharpest dentures to chew upMcLean. But Beavers, Brown and terrier Kerr were huge and always at the centre of the battle with the giants. And then Amoo grew too ; confident he could carry the mantle of the suspended Freck. A quarter of this passionate end-to-end advert for League two football had flown by. Then halleluiah Gritton won the ball. Better still the Christmas fairy turned him into Grittonia,Lincolns new advanced midfield playmaker. A superb flick that none of us thought he possssed and Lee Beevers was away. He played the ball to Forrester who dummied and Goal as Amoo finished things off by slotting home from 15 yards with aplomb.
It was like a Santa’s knees up, after the Shopping centre closes Christmas Eve, for the travelling 2323 Imps as the Moyes terrace shook from roof to rafters. The raucous red and white army then asked Mr Yeo, until now forlornly & furtively furrowing on the wing, “Prey Simon Simon whats the score?” He obliged although, perhaps in error, he gave the impression it was two, judging by the hand signal.
Oh no ho ho! The Posh scored completely against the run of play. They took us by surprise, electing for a change, to play the ball along the ground for; you’ve guessed it Peter Gain. That’s you off the Christmas card list then Gainy! After an early onslaught in the second half they were outfoxed though. Yo ho ho here’s Hughesie. The flowing total football arrived atLondon Road as the Imps came at the travelling Santa hordes on The Moyes Terrace, sending the hip flask alcohol and adrenalin coursing through the veins of every living Imp. One aim, one voice and one passion. Nicholson centred, Stallard flicked on and Amooooo controlled and drilled home a straight lace beauty oh so full of grace for his brace. Two goals and a virtuoso performance by a prancing, passing prince as rampant Ryan ran the show… Amoo, Amoo, Amoo’s on Fire rang round the ground and all the way up theLondon Road to Impdom.
This team can do it. They’ve had their wobble, taken the flack on and off the pitch. Then gone quietly, but with some style, about their business. Oh Yeo! Oh Yeo! The gospel according to the two Johns is getting through and spreading like wild fire. Role up, Role up the entertainers are in town. The certainly did at Posh with 8,405 by far their best crowd of the season, in Christmas week as well. KA had put an edge on this one by stating that all was greener at the Posh Paradise. WellLincoln’s huge banks of fantastic fans laughed last, loudest and longest in this one. Damnbusters saw Imps flying freely in the Moyes. It was laugh out loud atLondon Road – E-I-E-I-E-I-O Up the football league we go and all firm favourites and christmas carols & old chestnuts – and then the heavenly final whistle greeted by a roar that would have lifted the roof off of any of the big terraces of old. Yeo Yeo what’s the score boomed across at the deserted home sections as the team came over for the encore. Simon sportingly clapped up too suggesting some unfinished business back in Impdom some time in the future perhaps.
Bring on the Boston and a brilliant Boxing Day at the Bank? Mmmm Sincil Salivates……….
Match Facts & Stats
Peterborough United 1 Lincoln City 2 (H/T 1–1)
Posh Gain 42
Imps Amoo 23 & 72
Ref: Lee Att 8,405 (2323 IMPS)
Posh 49% Imps 51%
Shots on target
Posh 2 Imps 10
Shots off target
Posh 9 Imps 5
Posh 4 Imps 1
Posh 5 Imps 5
Posh 4 Imps 5
Posh 7 Imps 12
Posh 1 Imps 3