Let’s get things in perspective. Lincoln City’s relegation will not directly involve anybody’s loss of life. Your boss will not fire you because of it although he or she might seriously question your judgement. Your wife will not leave you because the Imps are relegated, she might though if you attempt to renew your season ticket particularly if you took her along to Sincil Bank and made her sit through this pathetic rubbish. Almost 8000 people were at the Bank on Saturday not because they particularly wanted to be but because they cared what happened to their local football club. Unfortunately though insufficient players cared about the outcome of this match and this season and the prospects of their employers.
This magnificent attendance was testament to the affection the people of Lincoln and surrounding area have for their club and also underlined the potential and goodwill towards the Imps as thousands queued to get in, Mrs Abbott had to blag her way in to the Echo stand as the house full signs went up for that particular area of the ground and the great and the good were in evidence as everyone with red and white in their hearts made their way in. The slightly cadaverous form of Ian Dowie, for Sky Sports, high in the stand a reminder that today was the final judgement although, in his lofty perch, he looked like an eagle circling above looking for pickings from the body. You won’t get fat picking over this particular corpse Ian.
Yes, those much maligned fans who stood accused of frightening the players and being the cause of City’s woeful home form, not that the away version has been anything to write home about lately, here for one last time in the hope that it won’t be the final time they are able to watch league football at Sincil Bank. Well it was and on this evidence it will be a long time, if at all before that particular delicacy is back on the menu.
Things were not exactly going swimmingly but the Imps maintained an uneasy parity with their visitors throughout the first half, the team, as is usual now, making their guests look like world beaters as they struggled to put two passes together and the paucity of the attack became apparent to those fans who were at a game for the first time this season. Hopes rested on Barnet being unable to improve on whatever City did in the game and half time came bringing with it no relief from the tension.
Then came the hammer blow, in fact two hammer blows and both of them were penalties. Before the game had even restarted Barnet were ahead, the gloom soon finding its way into everyone’s breast. Then, as night follows day City were behind as Clapham erred in the box. Clapham of all people, who does not stand accused by this writer of not caring, quite the reverse. It must be something to do with the fact that this season has been such a struggle and we are not saying the referee was in any way biased but decision after decision was going the way of the visitors so it really was no surprise that this one did and it might as well have been the matadors coup de grace as the shiny sword found its way between our shoulder blades and we sank to our knees. There was no way back.
As the game wore on the previous forbearance started to get a little difficult to maintain and a few home truths were relayed to the team. Ashley Grimes became involved in a nasty little spat with a fan as the realisation dawned that City were down and there was to be no knight in shining armour come to our rescue. Port Vale were defeated at Underhill and City defeated at Sincil Bank, the now familiar flurry of goals coming to rub salt into our wounds.
Keith Alexander will be turning in his grave. The legacy he left us, evidenced by this turnout, now frittered away and the club exposed in their tattered rags. Even at this last chance City put out a team and a formation that the fans will question. Wasn’t all out attack needed? So what if we took another stuffing a few more goals would have made no difference and at least City would have gone down fighting instead of the usual capitulation. The team disappeared down the tunnel without a backward glance. Well good riddance.
Next season does in fact offer the prospect of some good games and a return to some local derbies but this is testament to the lack of success in this neck of the woods with only the Iron to look out for in the league and even they were relegated but how we wish for ourselves that relegation should simply mean a return to League One. Boo Hoo!
Unfortunately for City, fans may merely cherry pick the best games from next term rather than sign up for a whole season and after this debacle of a campaign who could blame them? Once again, the Imps face an uncertain future.
Have a good summer.