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Maria Horner describes her personal experience and what was behind the LISA idea to the Football Supporters Federation:
"It started with a kiss, sort of. Like falling in love; the pain in your heart and a dull ache in your stomach when you know it’s real. Lincoln City lost to York in the FA Trophy semi-final, a rare defeat late last season, but it was the moment I realised I properly cared about my club. I analysed what it was I’d fallen for and hesitantly posted on Facebook. Suddenly a raft of like-minded women responded.
It took me by surprise. My partner, Martin, encouraged me to create a Facebook group, just to see what happened. LISA was born that Monday night in March. Within a week we had 800 people on the group. Women love their club and want to talk about it.That’s all it was, an additional alternative space where female fans could share their thoughts, feelings and joy.
Quickly it shaped itself into a place for all kinds of random love for Lincoln City FC; selfies with the team (who caught a Cowley?), Imps beach towels abroad, red and white themed summer plants, celebrations of our fabulous season. Did we ride the tidal wave of the club’s success in the National League and FA Cup? the excitement and joy? Yep, we loved every minute! Are we all ‘bandwagon jumpers’ and not real fans’? Nope. Try that line with our member who’s been an Imp for 57 years.
But we are more than a page, we’ve made a difference – already. Women who had not been to see a live match before felt they could try it, other’s who hadn’t attended alone before had the confidence to do so. Female supporters are connecting with each other, friendships are building online and it’s transferring to the ground on match day. The ‘feel’ of the group is overwhelmingly positive. They say they enjoy the lack of hostility and swearing found on other sites; not because it’s banned but it’s the way it’s evolved. It’s not Pollyanna either. It can be risqué or cheeky, but it’s inclusive, and funny.
So what are we for? LISA is here to create a space to encourage more women to actively support Lincoln City Football Club and to shape it into an even more positive experience. We’ll do this by sharing our thoughts, ideas and experiences with each other and more widely by linking with other organisations to enhance our aims. Although we are Lady Imps, we welcome members of any gender, and men encouraging women to the game can only be helpful.
If you support our aims we want you with us. We are part of the football community, we don’t seek to separate ourselves, by seating or otherwise, we want to join in celebrating Lincoln City FC, on and off the pitch. If more women enjoy that experience and feel part of their club, they will spend their money and bring their families and friends.
The football experience can be enhanced for everyone without taking away the aspects which many fans enjoy; lively goal celebrations, a chant with jocular not hateful swearing.
It’s not about sanitising the sport but encouraging variety in how fans enjoy their football. It could be providing travel options for women travelling alone to away games, mum’s discussing child friendly alternative lyrics to the chants, or just saying what we think about the match without fear of being ridiculed by a keyboard warrior who’s supported football for three hundred years and who set the exam on the offside rule.
Lincoln City FC has been hugely supportive from the start when we were just a few posts on Facebook. In less than four months we’ve had a ‘Meet LISA night’ (no yawning formalities) we are on twitter @ladyimps, we have a committee and a membership scheme and a badge beautifully designed by a member. We couldn’t have achieved this without Anwar Uddin, head of the Football Supporters' Federation and Kick it Out's Fans for Diversity campaign.
It’s provided LISA with a solid foundation and a website! It also made possible our first ‘official’ LISA Night social. For £5 a head the LCFC Travis Perkins suite was filled to capacity with balloons and more than 120 people served with fizz and ‘tapas’. Pride of place was our Vanarama League Trophy and player Sean Long kicked off the celebrations. Singer Ellie-Mae and musician Jack Cook were fabulous. Our ‘voice of football’, BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s commentator Michael Hortin interviewed his regular match summariser Steve Thomson.
Steve’s experience as a former player and manager for both Lincoln City and Sheffield United provided delight with his unvarnished tales of football characters. Our own LISA comedian Gina Overton served wry wit about what women witness at football including “the crevice of doom”! But the highlight was the room waving and swaying while more than ninety women sang Sweet Caroline! Da Da Da! Good times never seemed so good!"
Well, after a long wait LISA Night came and went and thankfully it seems it was a great success. Combining full time day jobs with our love for Lincoln City is undoubtedly hard work but certainly worthwhile and incredibly rewarding. On our other media streams we have expressed our sincere thanks to all involved who gave their precious time for absolutely nothing, we repeat it here, THANK YOU. It was brilliant to see so many Imps both ladies and gents enjoying themselves, albeit we didn't foresee Alan Long's chair dancing receiving over 5,500 Facebook views!
I think for most of us Sunday was a recovery day, but not for our amazing Heidi - having slaved away with the club staff in the kitchen all day she was back to work for 9am on Sunday morning! So now we look to the future and as our profile grows it will no doubt get busier! For all our members that joined up officially in recent days we will be arranging a relaxed get together, an inaugural meeting shall we say. Our next committee meeting is less than 2 weeks away when we can get our heads together to plan for our next event(s). Last week we had a meeting with the fantastic charity, Imps in the Community, there is so much we can do for the benefit of the community and our club. It's been a steep learning curve but an exciting journey in our short history. Fingers crossed we are headed in the right direction.
Many of you will know that last season Curves of Lincoln - fitness for ladies, kindly offered LISA to be the joint Man of the match sponsor at last seasons home fixture against Bromley. This was at no cost to the group and also offered a competition where the lucky LISA winner enjoyed a VIP match day experience. Maria was very fortunate to present the Man of the Match to Alex Woodyard with Karen Dixon from Curves. We are delighted to announce that Curves of Lincoln's support and promotion of LISA will now continue into the new season with joint sponsorship at future games as follows:
Saturday 2nd September 2017
Lincoln City v Luton
Saturday 27th January 2018
Lincoln City v Newport
Saturday 7th April 2018
Lincoln City v Wycombe
Man of the match sponsor
We are immensely thankful to Curves for their continued support of both LISA and our beloved Lincoln City Football Club.
Up the Imps - the new season is almost here !!! ❤️⚪️🔴
Hello folks, we have had some questions regarding membership so here is some further information. We will be doing membership sign up at the LISA Night event on 8th July. For those that cant make it to the event we ask if you could fill in the newly added online membership form. We will respond to you after 8th July (we are flat out at the moment!!) and let you know how you can pay your £5 and so we can get your membership stuff out to you, including your badge of course. As well as ladies we are really encouraging gents to join too, we know that sometimes behind a great woman you will often find a great man! Hope that makes sense, please contact us with any further questions or use the reply option on this blog.
Thank you, up the imps
Well, lots going on! It seems difficult to believe that just a few months ago LISA didn't exist! Then again, it was difficult to imagine that over 5,500 season tickets would have been sold by now. All hands are to the pumps in preparation for LISA Night next Saturday, 8th July - special guests, food and drink, decorations, audio and lighting, membership, raffle prizes, tickets etc - plenty of plates spinning! Each and every person contributing to this event is giving their time for free, we simply cannot thank them enough. The football club as they have from the outset have been magnificent. We are just about at capacity for the event, we literally have a handful of spare tickets left. Something really special is happening in our city and we are happy to do our little bit. Full steam ahead for the unstoppable Lincoln Loco