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Gary Simpson The New Graham Taylor Budget Permitting

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.

please sign our BSP 3 up 3 down petition here and thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs

Graham Taylor.jpg 

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.

We’ll Rave About Ex-Blades Dave – So Says Rose Tinted.

David Holdsworth learned his belief in self discipline and respect at Sheffield United under Howard Kendall but, alas got short shift at Mansfield before he could get time to blend his team. Mr Holdsworth, like Mr Kendall preached discipline and respect: “it did not matter if you were in the reserves or the top earner, you were all treated the same. It made you aware of how to act and treat others.”  Please read the full article in the typically unbiased Echo here, as ever a riveting read.  Such a shame that Sheffield United friendly may never come to fruition.

Another dose of Rose Tinted… the futures bright ’tis red and white. 

Sheffield United logo

Mr Holdsworth, clearly a man who knows the boundaries of decency, goes on to discuss the Olympic ideals and how things have changed since he was a trainee at The Blades under Howard Kendall, a manager who himself made mountains from financial molehills at Sheffield United and then Everton.  This and Graham Taylor’s influence at Watford has shown him how to act and treat others.  Celebration of success should be done at the right time” and as he rightly says Joe Public is sick of those who ‘live without boundaries’.  As he also so rightly says ‘Discipline is a big thing to me in and outside of football.’ Well said sir and long may you continue to live up to such high standards and thus continue to lead by example. Mr Holdsworth may have traded his Sheffield roots for Lincoln but he was instrumental in insisting we returned to our heritage of red and white stripes.

One warning for our manager however, is that he should not bite the hand that feeds.  For the overworked and underpaid Mr Holdsworth concludes the article with another unnecessary dig at the fans, or  ‘supporters’ as the club has errantly referred to many of those who dared to question the clubs, hopefully temporary demise; last season, oh and of course the season before.  I quote again from the esteemed Lincolnshire Echo –  From swearing and abusive language on the terraces to some very hateful facebook pages, the respect in the game is not there like it was. It needs to be addressed, but it is down to people in authority.”  Clearly Mr Holdsworth’s knowledge of the club does not extend back to the days of the Clanford End, or heaven forbid the foundry workers for whom Councillor Bainbridge and Mr Strawson formed this club – ‘for the benefit of two hours of healthy recreation’ as a break from five and a half days of blood sweat and toil.  Though all things are relative things are much more passive now than those Gilbert Blades times.

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Although I can agree with the former half of that last comment, the latter is a less than veiled swipe. Surely Mr Holdsworth should not bite the hand that feeds – for passion is an unbridled and, therefore unpalatable beast, particularly in a game so fickle, so short-term, based purely and ominously upon results. Lincoln City Banter has been the real driving force behind the fundraising. They have sponsored 13 shirts (some of whom are already loaned out) and are maintaining the momentum behind the Fans player scheme, one that will boost Mr Holdsworth’s war chest in the transfer window. Mr Holdsworth should perhaps not therefore throw stones in glass houses and realise that Lincoln has been long starved of the success and financial backing that it deserves.  Win games and they will come in their thousands to boost your war chest sir.

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Mr Holdsworth, like the Lincoln Holding Company Board of Saviours, who preach collective responsibility with religious zeal, should also realise that technology has forced things to move on. In the good old Sincil sepia old days, fans would discuss things after a game with beer adding to the already boiling blood.  Then it was gone with the wind, like the hot air and bravado. Love and hate are close emotions and, passion will blow hot then cool, but never go cold.  Alas nowadays, the residue of the blast hole, stays there in print for all who choose to look.  Even I, through my Rose tinted specs, can see the love and desire for better within the struggle, strife and torment of the staunchest Imps who have yet to bathe in the wholesome Holdsworth light.

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Many of these fans or ‘supporters’, who have done so much to find common ground over the summer, have needed to vent their spleen on the forums as opposed to in the smoking rooms and snugs of the traditional pubs;  to fashion and find a common way.  Change rarely comes without cracking a few eggs as Chairman Bob surely knows from his Chicken and, maybe even blossoming property development interests. The personal intervention and comments over the Leicester and Sheffield United cancellations – and now this – need not be said if he like we are to be focussing, pulling together and creating a positive and seamless team. The fans may be stakeholders from afar, but you need our turnstile clicks. Imps are patient, so Macc and Gateshead apart, please start to deliver on your promises and virtuous vision soon, or even Rose Tinted’s blue sky thinking may not always be there to find you a cloud with a silver lining.

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We can only do so much Mr Holdsworth the path shall be chosen ultimately by you and money – certainly the central ill of modern life.  As your illuminating article in the Lincolnshire Echo (such a shame such a local institution is now weekly – let us hope our beloved Imps do not follow suit) concludes:

The managers, the Professional Footballers’ Association, the FA and even parents with young children making their first steps in football, they must start drilling that respect back.

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Amen to that and long may you continue to lead by example, to prove that hard work, clean living and the ethical way to do business, can indeed lead us to the promised land.  Atop Steep Hill is the 8th wonder of the World, Lincoln Cathedral – deliver on your crusade and we could make a Saint David of you yet!

Lincoln City Shareholders AGM & David Holdsworth Q & A

Save The Mighty Imps were at the Lincoln City AGM on Thursday,  which was very much the expected damp squib,  bar the enlightening Q & A with the manager afterwards. We are a football club primarily and there is  a time and a place for the politics so we will centre on the managers comments for the purposes of this article except to say this was to be expected,  given the need for the Trust and board to maintain the status quo for as long as they can.

Clearly even the trifling matters of the relegation, the huge losses,  inconsistensies on the part of the chairman, including a private settlement with a potential investor (and want-to-be director)  and a £42,000  guilty plea from a member of the Trust board on the Tuesday; were never going to be topics for free and open discussion. Should anything come up a longwinded patronising comment would do the trick, although thankfully it was only called upon the once, although once was clearly enough. So without delay – and perhaps choice – onwards and upwards.

David Holdsworth

What a likeable chap David Holdsworth is, captivating you with his cockney charm in an instant. You can tell he wants it, is genuinely  feels honoured to be managing a big club like Lincoln City and he relishes it albeit a tough task and a tough ask given thwe cupboard appears to be all but bare. He opened proceedings with a meet and greet that had us in the palm of his hand…. bodes well for the players who share his enthusiasm and want to work then?

David Holdsworth, or DH if you will excuse the initials – like GT the great former manager he is becoming more and more like –  is a big fitness fan it appears, yes although we have heard that little chestnut before – an old one in the game –  DH adds the applience of science with ex sponsor the University of Lincoln partneres in the scheme of things.  The fitness aim is to be Premiership standard with a database created to monitor twice taken body fat and VO2 Max levels (Fitness can be measured by the volume of oxygen you can consume while exercising) to ensure the players inhalation and airwaves are at a peak.

VO2 max is a measure of a person’s aerobic fitness. (liters per minute) or ml/kg/min (mls of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute). A player is considered to have reached their  VO2 max if several of the following occurrs: a plateau or ‘peaking over’ in oxygen uptake, maximal heart rate was reached, attainment of a respiratory exchange ratio of 1.15 or greater, and volitional exhaustion.

The table below categorizes VO2max scores for adult men and women of various ages. These are relative VO2max scores, in the units of mls of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml.kg-1.min-1).  The following  table are the norms expected for we non finely tuned folk.

Max oxygen uptake norms  (ml/kg/min)

Men only by Age
rating 18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 65+
excellent > 60 > 56 > 51 > 45 > 41 > 37
good 52-60 49-56 43-51 39-45 36-41 33-37
above average 47-51 43-48 39-42 36-38 32-35 29-32
average 42-46 40-42 35-38 32-35 30-31 26-28
below average 37-41 35-39 31-34 29-31 26-29 22-25
poor 30-36 30-34 26-30 25-28 22-25 20-21
very poor < 30 < 30 < 26 < 25 < 22 < 20

Not wishing to be sexist, here is one for the ladies.

Women only by Age
rating 18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 65+
excellent > 56 > 52 > 45 > 40 > 37 > 32
good 47-56 45-52 38-45 34-40 32-37 28-32
above average 42-46 39-44 34-37 31-33 28-31 25-27
average 38-41 35-38 31-33 28-30 25-27 22-24
below average 33-37 31-34 27-30 25-27 22-24 19-21
poor 28-32 26-30 22-26 20-24 18-21 17-18
very poor < 28 < 26 < 22 < 20 < 18 < 17

This dovetails nicely with DH’s concerns over recovery rates,  with two games a week always a big part of the first half of the conference season and the latter should inclement weather force postponements. As could be seen at Newport last week the pitches are poor on a good day.  DH is big on stretching post match and diet in general with his meticulousness –  hopefully not micro management as that can be counter-productive and alienating in the extreme – stretching to dental hygiene and the regular brushing of the players Hampstead Heath – teeth.

DH was diplomatic when faced with a question of ambition, namely promotion – staggering that it was to ‘oohs and ahs’ from a thankfully aging audience.  he is a polished character and sidestepped it well with survival clearly the name of the game.  You cannot be over confident but he is looking upwards, ever mindful of the dangers and pitfalls that fill face us when we consider the financial downsize and limitations he has inherited. Doubtless on and off the pitch.

Former Trust Chairman John Roddam – oh that they and we ex Trust members could do with your stewardship now –  brought up the ‘players into the community’ adage.  DH is a big fan and brought up the fact that he has been heavily influenced by Graham Taylor throughout  his career, thus this is a big part of his philosophy at Lincoln City going forward.  To this end the players to the local children’s ward at Lincoln next week will hopefully be the first of many involving the team and management.  Towards the end of proceedings DH professed a desire for the players to meet the fans more.

Andy Blow the eminent local  historian (  http://www.blowbyblow.co.uk/ ) quizzed the manager on his youth policy, with neccesity clearly the mother of invention at the Imps nowadays. Have no fear, having coached youth for 18 years, DH is keen to talk to Grant Brown on a regular basis and believes that if you are good enough then you are old enough to play in the first team.  Heart warming stuff DH and also very Tayloresque?

The prickly keeper issue and the need for a big albeit more mobile centre-forward came up with next.  The expensive Anyons is a luxury we can’t afford, even if Farman cannot kick and DH initially brushed this issue aside in favour of the Kyle Perry problem.  Essentially KP is doing the right things off the pitch having lost a stone and Tuesday was just not his kind of game hence the substitution. The realities of a small club left him as our only fit option for a while and with Medley Cup tied on Saturday, along with Farnham giving Jo a go between the sticks,  you have to give the lad game time.  Taylor is almost match fit, Laurent is seeing an ankle specialist, Hutch may need surgery and  Smith is a little while off so competition is not a luxury the Imps enjoy at the minute.

The Anyon issue was then pushed again, with DH ever the diplomat,  side stepping the elephant in the room to an extent. We have two great young keepers with differing strengths and weaknesses, both still learning their trade. Jo will get a chance to earn the shirt on Saturday. Is this a rare chance to put him in the shop window thanks to Farman being cup tied and a rumoured move to Crawley in January?  As to former favourite Marriott coming in during the window, it is as unlikely then as it will be when his current deal expires in June.

David Holdsworth then went into one of his inspirational monologues, not excitable but then never understated. Let us hope he is backed he could as yet be the 21st centurey enticer.  DH wants channelled aggression and passion. When he arrived the dressing room was a lacklustre place, inevitably heading downwards.  Popularity stakes were never an option  as the new torch-bearer attempted to show them the light, with a my way or the highway approach.  It is his way or he will take them where they want to go.  Arnaud has gone back to France and Sheridan has now fully joined Team-Lincoln after working notice and finishing his last two days in a factory last week. Jake is working on his fitness and there will be a lot more to come from that lad.  DH expects at least one or two more to follow the Frenchman’s lead.

The disciplinarian has instigated a social media ban at the club,   the big brother world is almost as big a problem as players egos it seems. There is a mobile phone ban in place to avoid the text distraction and head phones are frowned upon as it is not conducive to team building.   DH does not want his team selection and shape revealed to the opposition ahead of the game, a practice he jovially enjoys.

DH’s phone meanwhile is red hot with players wanting to join although lack of cash and a desire to avoid journeymen in favour of the young and the hungry who wear the shirt with pride, will focus his approach. He may get a boost in January with a £100k cut from any Loach deal, unless the cashflow requirements eat it up as feared.   Reiterating both his no I in T-E-A-M and the community aspect DH professed a desire for all of the players to meet the fans both regularly and soon.

With new centre half Jason Beardsley joining the following day it was no surprise to explanations to the whereabouts of  Danny Hone and Adam Watts.  Danny needs games and Barrow were keen to oblige. When and if he comes back he will have an opportunity to fight for his place although DH was appreciative that his wages were currently coming back into the club.  Adam Watts has now lost his father and is currently in London. STMI’s thoughts go out to you Adam.  Two other players have also recently lost family members, condolenses again, from a dressing room morale perspective,  they do say things happen in threes.

David Holdsworth, a raconteur until the end, then left us in no doubts that Team Lincoln will avoid relegation and fight for every point.  Well here is to a festive Bank bounce-back and a financial boost in the new year.  With the directors unsure of the cash-flow projections for January, my money is on a new Chair and vice chair plus a six figure windfall from Loach.  David Holdsworth with a war chast  mmmmm Sincil Salivates…………………….