By Maria Horner
One of the joys of football is the build up to a game, the comparisons of recent performances, stats, historic rivalries and of course personalities.
In FGR’s Mark Cooper we have the perfect villain from a perfect villain castle - albeit one grown from parsnips in a forest of broccoli.
As with any clash between sides it’s the differences they exploit in order to goad, undermine and berate the ‘enemy’ to wage psychological warfare on the army; to take the emotional upper hand before battle on the field.
Like the pre-match boxing weigh-in, the preamble between football fans and the respective managers is exaggerated, a lot of pomp and ceremony and fist waving. It’s all part of the refined dance to ensure everything is set for the right amount of tension at kick off.
So FGR’s eco-vegan credentials which in the outside world are all very commendable and outwardly good (as long as no one is forced to eat a vegetable hot dog in a gluten free roll, unless of course you enjoy such fare - fair play) but it does give meat to the stew for the opposition cat calls.
So we had Mark Copper ‘the cad’,
flapping his cape in indignation, who hasn’t failed to delight Imps fans with his comments about the club and our princely Danny and Nicky ( both obviously the most newly eligible managers to grace the kingdom of football).
So the stage was set and the triumph of Rhead’s first goal set off our second weapon of mass destruction; the sound wall of noise from the Co-op stand hurtling towards Cooper’s lair. It was followed by the crushing bellows of ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning (repeat to tune of Guantanamera) well surely that would be enough to force him to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West ? But no !! The beast was yet to deliver his final ‘yelp’as his winged monkey Doidge shot past our hero Vickers.
With the gasping giant vegetable monster yet to be slayed.... up arose our mighty friendly giant again, angered no doubt by the falling over army, he rose through the steaming blades of green to his seven foot magnificent grandeur, all manly thirty stone of him (Ok it’s for effect keep with me ...) and plunged the final dagger into the heart of the fearfully wide eyed mushroom that was FGR.
The villain, stopped in his tracks at the defeat, took his bony fingers and threw his kelp cape around his shoulders and slunk off, while the Cowley Princes and the people cheered and bells rang out in celebration and we hailed our knight in shining armour who is being waved off to fight in the fair kingdom of Norwich.
And as the curtain falls...that’s where it should end, there’s no reason to take any of this off-stage or outside the dressing room door or to the car park...
By L.I.S.A Committee
Since this whole L.I.S.A thing started rolling, none of us ever imagined how we would create such a brilliant way to enhance our own support. It has been a joy to make so many new friends, to see people so happy at our events, to share a pride in our club and embrace all that it has brought to our city and beyond.
It’s amazing how life can change so quickly and there have been many times when we have had to stop, take a breath and thought, “is this really happening?”, it’s not always been easy but my goodness it’s been worthwhile. We have now entered the season of good will to all men (and women) and we have so much to be thankful for.
Just like our logo, football is in our heart and since our beginning we have been able to see just what an incredible difference our club can make to people. The influence and ability that football has to provide positive change extends way beyond 3 points on a match day and we want to promote and support that, we want to try and help our club be the best it can be.
In our excitement for the future it’s important we acknowledge and respect all that has gone before. Our encouragement of female support in no way detracts from the importance of the gents, the diversity of our support is what we believe in, not to take away from it, only to add to it, to join in and see our club flourish and see our stadium full to bursting.
The word “diversity” is feared by some but it should not be, it only threatens those who seek division or do not believe in tolerance and respect for the good of all. If we do what we can in our love for Lincoln City to promote our club and its diverse surroundings it will hopefully help it in becoming more accessible to everyone.
As we move into the New Year we will be working hard to enhance support, bring people together, raise funds for good causes and promote diversity. These will not always be easy tasks but the L.I.S.A loco is rolling and it’s not slowing down just yet. Whatever gender, disability, faith, country of birth or sexual orientation - you should be welcomed and encouraged to Sincil Bank.
In the New Year we are proud to be working with both Imps in the Community and the club to support the “Kick it Out” fixture against Newport County and we will keep you updated of our work on that. We have big events on the horizon and our next L.I.S.A Night in March.
We believe in what we are doing, and we believe in Lincoln City, we think we can make a difference. It might be a big ask but, as someone once said, impossible is only an opinion!
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year. Up the Imps.
By Gemma Bell
On a cold and frosty Saturday just a few sleeps from Christmas where else would any manager take her under 10's, Accrington Stanley at home of course, we went for the match day experience! A stadium tour, a spot of food and of course some top coaching with Shane Ring. Shane is as coach who has a philosophy close to mine so it was nice to see my lads in his capable hands and just watch them. David Fox, who heads up development, drafted Shane in from a local grassroots club. His style of coaching is standard of David’s development for all ethos.
I have to say days with my football sons are special but this was only made exceptionally special by the guest appearance of one man. A man who's opinion is truly valued by myself and more importantly my 9 year old. Keen for him to experience the atmosphere of Sincil Bank and using our teams match day experience as bait he took my season ticket and headed for The Millers to meet a friend who happens to be a season ticket holder next to my seat.
A couple of pints later he was escorted to the ground and shown his seat. Looking around it’s clear things have changed at the Bank since he was last there. The last time was March 3rd 2004 in a clash against Mansfield where he remembers very little because of a free bar. He does remember we won and that the ground was a lot less occupied than it is these days, he sat soaking up the atmosphere.
As I looked across the pitch at my boys all out kitted up emotions were high, but standing at the railings of a packed out CoOp stand was a proud Dad and Grandad with his phone out filming his grandson carrying the flag across the pitch in front of over 7500 fans. It’s hard not to feel the club’s passion radiate out in that moment.
By the time we joined the parents and my Dad it was kick off. It’s been a few years since my father and I enjoyed live football together having previously travelled the country together following our Premiership love. Eager to get his take on it I quizzed how he was feeling. “ fair play to Lincoln they have made it a real family club I can’t believe how many families are here “ spot on I’d say... Lincoln is the most family orientated club I have come across along my travels.
I pointed over to upper 7 and the stand was up and rocking . He couldn’t believe the ability and to say they had some struggles in upper 7 on Saturday this tells me a lot. These vocal groups are one of the most important things about match day whether you sing or you don’t, they replaced the old school firms. We have come on a long way from the terraces and that honour that came with being a top firm now comes with being the loudest and most rocking organised vocal group. The 617 are a major part of the match day experience and I feel that while it has become a hot spot for the selfie takers looking to post that picture on social media, we need them. A proud moment I’m sure, that people from all over the ground look to be a part of what the 617 bring, but we must remember that if we step into upper 7 we have a job to do. We have to embrace what the upper 7 is, a vocal area for the loud and bouncy.
So would my Dad come back? Well time will tell. He enjoyed the atmosphere and even some of the football. He wasn’t impressed by the food but he was impressed by the family feel that the club have strived to create. All in all a winning day.
Just what is "walking football"? L.I.S.A Secretary Jackie Atkins had never played football before but after only 2 sessions she is hooked! Exercise, fun and friendships - Here's another example of why football is much more than just a game and all thanks to the fab charity - Imps in the Community;
By Jackie Atkins
What were you doing on 4th October 2017? Don’t remember? No, neither do I, but it seems I ‘liked’ a post on L.I.S.A Facebook page asking if anyone was interested in ladies walking football sessions and the next thing I knew - I was signing up!
I have watched football for many years with hubby Keith; and about 8 months ago got hooked into the IMPvasion and discovered that I really enjoyed attending live matches (especially at lower league level where there is far less theatrics than in the Premier League!). However, that being said - I have never played a game so what on earth was I doing writing a comment in response to Katrina Hall’s post of 4th November advertising the start of Ladies Walking Football; that went something along the lines of “Going to give it a go”!!
Too late - the deed was done and not one to renege on my commitments - on 25th November I arrived at Sincil Bank donned in jogging bottoms and several warm layers (it was a VERY cold morning) - and 5 keen but clearly nervous ladies walked onto the astro turf in readiness for our first kick about.
None of us knew anything about the rules and regulations of walking football - we were all newcomers and all (I found out) - equally anxious and excited about what we were undertaking. We started by acquainting ourselves with the rules. We were happy with the line stating there was no off side rule; that sliding was not allowed and that no running was permitted - but what constitutes running? Apparently, as long as one foot remains on the ground - it's not running.
We started by getting to grips with passing the ball using the side of our foot and dribbling around a cone. Once ‘perfected’ we moved on to passing the ball to another person with the aim of them taking a shot at goal - easier said than done. Our first attempts were not the best, but as with all new undertakings - we gradually got more confident in what we were doing and even managed to knock all the cones in the goal mouth down. By now, we were chatting and laughing together and thoroughly enjoying the experience - new friendships were being formed and initial anxieties were dispelled.
It was then that our boys arrived for the game against Port Vale. The Cowley's were their usual charming selves and happily signed autographs and chatted to fans. I’m sure they also noticed our little kick about going on and were perhaps eyeing up their next signings :-)
Katrina (our very able coach) produced the dreaded bibs and we split into two teams for our first ‘game’. You would think that a group of women who had just met would be friendly and polite - NO - we were committed to winning and our ‘walking’ became distinctly faster as the game progressed (and I actually think some of us might have broken into a jog……….).
At the end of the session, we agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed it and were definitely returning the following week. We did, along with another 5 ladies (doubling the first session attendance) which is amazing. Once again we warmed up, practiced our passing skills and had a game - much more challenging than the first week and more competitive but still as enjoyable.
Most of the ladies attending are on the L.I.S.A Facebook page so have been brought together through this group - how fabulous is that! Would we have found ourselves playing walking footie had it not been for L.I.S.A - probably not. We are still looking for more ladies to join us - it is a fun way to get some exercise and make new friends. All ages are welcome. First session is free, so there’s nothing to lose. Who knows - we might one day even find ourselves picking up a trophy of our own :-)
The smiles say it all, why not join them :-)
By Gemma Bell
Well it's certainly my life! Take the last two months of my life... football madness! Trips to Sincil Bank, my under 10's in several games, home and away, then a 'quick' trip to the Banks Stadium for a Women's World Cup qualifier. Most recently I went to a mid-week friendly to watch none other than Lee Beevers back in action for Gainsborough Trinity on a cold Tuesday night at The Sun Hat Villas Stadium, and that's just games!
Step away from games and I still have one night a week as a minimum for session planning and then another night training with my grassroots team. More recently I have started to coach at an advanced player development centre for boys and now I have been tasked with setting up a girls centre and much more. So here I am now, I find myself both back in the classroom and back on a pitch. As I start to undertake the next level of my coaching journey, it's posed the question;
Why do we coach the way we coach?
As with everything it's a philosophy ingrained in us from the start. What I'm learning about myself on this course is that I already had a coaching philosophy before I stepped out into my first session as coaching lead. It's an extension of my beliefs in all aspects of life, mistakes will be made, I’m confident of that but be confident, that is one of the best ways to learn. By discovering your own path to a positive outcome you become independent and that is what I wish for my players.
So why am I telling you this? Well, have you ever looked at the grassroots game and thought; 'Why is the coach playing player x there, they can't play there?'
Yep! Me too, but now I know why. If I played all my players in positions that only work with their strengths am I really encouraging their development?, or is it perhaps the case that am I stopping their development in their weaker areas? I question myself, am I creating an environment that allows players to try, fail and try again with confidence? You see that's what I want, I don't want to spoon feed them instructions so they just rely on my commands, that style is very much “old school coaching” and has limited creativity and has ultimately resulted in a lack of flair in the English game.
So, how do we bring it back and just how can parents at grassroots help?
I encourage you to ask your child's coach more questions about why they do what they do and receive that information with an open mind. Remember they are working with the FA on new approaches to coaching and your understanding of that is invaluable. Command style alone is limiting style and finesse that we need so urgently back in the English game.
I say let's grab the opportunity for change and grow greatness from grassroots. Football is life!