This blog was written just ahead of the last fixture of the season and of course we've not only seen the departure of the Big Apple (to mixed reviews) but also the appointment of Mark Kennedy (yet to receive an Imps nickname). So, while the inevitable coming's and goings over the off season will continue, here's a reflection on what last season was for us (see our favourite StaceyWestBlog for on field matters).
No promotion, or play off .. relief is just a different sort of celebration, right?
I’m sure we’ll be chewing the fat about; the inconsistencies, injuries, frustrations, the run of form (or rather lack of), together with a lack of luck!, for years to come. While the world (rightly) has bigger ‘fish to fry’, and while individuals, families and friends have no doubt had their hurdles or worse to bear, I’d like to think on reflection there’s been a lot that’s been good at Lincoln this season.
We’ve seen some delicious #Imps games - when we've hit our stride or our opponents have missed theirs, we’ve enjoyed some good results and away days.
We’ve seen some players develop and grow into their game, and a few wow and delight us.
Michael Appleton has actually been with us throughout the season despite huge personal health issues.
The club is still looking to grow and secure its roots in the community - the investment in the revised Stacey West Stand looks to the medium and long term; towards rewards which will benefit thousands of people in our city. This will bring benefits we may not be able to predict right now, but there’s every chance it could eventually enhance the on pitch opportunities.
So while it’s not been the euphoria of recent years, steady hands and belief mean we're still in League One and surely that’s an achievement worth celebrating! And what about Lady Imps?
I thought we’d had a fairly quiet season.. and hadn’t felt there was a lot to shout about in our fifth birthday season. But when I look back I’m amazed, grateful and feel blessed. The support we have is appreciated and absolutely vital - ‘likes’ feel encouraging and we all need that, paid memberships really do enable us to keep going and most of all we love seeing you at the club.
From our Committee including myself, Jackie Atkins, Julie Romain, Kirsty Lalka, Emma-Lou Stirling, Nicky Dring & Adele Would we'd like to say THANK YOU x
Perhaps the project which has quietly made the most difference and one we’re all hugely proud of is the #ImpsMatchdayWelcome project. Supporters, and fellow fans including Red Imps Community Trust, Imptoons & Stacey West Blog helped fundraise to buy season tickets to use for underrepresented or disadvantaged members of our community. Lincoln City FC matched our efforts. We invited people suffering loneliness or isolation, who live with mental health or learning disabilities, minorities from different ethnic or national backgrounds, all to come to their first football game. These included ‘Alive & Kicking, Linkage, families in Lincoln from Russia, Poland, East Timor and others.
There’s more to do but the joy for the 40 or so guests we hosted was a privilege to see, the guest family who had recently arrived from Ukraine especially touched all our hearts. Thanks to everyone who helped make it work.
The #FansForDiversity project also treated us to a new flag
The Football Supporters
This season has seen us connect with emerging supporter groups for women fans across the pyramid. From the Amber Belles of Cambridge and Doncaster Rovers Women Supporter Group, to being part of Dons Trust ‘Women at the Game’ event at Plough Lane. Together with the club we partnered with the #HerGameToo campaign which took social media and football by storm. We’re looking ahead to meeting Women of Watford and fans at Fulham. #HerGameToo
As supporters we must also celebrate the achievements of Lincoln City Women FC, especially their fantastic FA Cup run to the 4th round taking on LIverpool. Goalless until just before half time, pegging the reds (who went on to achieve promotion to the WSL) to just 6 goals was no mean feat. Congratulations on a great season - the first complete season since forming in 2019! The launch of the Lincoln City Women’s Academy Girls and the Girls BTEC programmes by Lincoln City Foundation sees the football pathway open for all at the club.
Lincoln City Women FC
As part of the Football Supporters Association we also contributed to the Government’s Fan Led Review urging Government and Football stakeholders to implement change to protect the national game. We wrote to local MP’s requesting they support the recommendations from MP Tracey Crouch - their responses were positive. We very much welcome the announcement from Government that the review's recommendations will be implemented and that there will be a separate review of the Women’s Game starting this year. More on that here FSA
As part of celebrations of International Women’s Day 2022 we were invited to be part of the coverage by the EFL and Sky Sports highlighting women supporting their local clubs.
And to round off the year of course we were delighted to see the launch of the #MyCityMyShirt showing the diverse fan base we have. Our Chair Maria Ryder worked with the FSA, the club and fans to create it and thanks everyone at the club, Gary Hutchinson, Amanda Slater and Danny Nesbitt and all those who took part and everyone who bought a shirt. Of course there is always more to do to reach out to anyone who wants to be at football but thinks it might not be for them and we’ll continue to support initiatives which enhance the Lincoln City family.
All in all as we think of the 21/22 season having marked our 5th Birthday, albeit sadly no party, there's much to be positive about.
So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to us!!
Come on we’re looking forward to next season already aren’t we?
Derby.. Posh.. the VEGGIES !!!!
If you support what we do please join our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. If funds allow please consider becoming a member 2022/23. The £5 covers our costs for badges and our website. www.ladyimps.co.uk/membership.html
If you’d like to get involved we’d welcome helping hands too firstname.lastname@example.org
Firstly this is an opportunity for any Imp who hasn’t got a season ticket to WIN a pair of Season Memberships by entering a prize draw here - tickets are £5 and you will find T & C’s here when you buy
If you are already a season ticket holder and win the prize you can receive a refund on two season tickets.
The fundraising project is to support the new #ImpsMatchdayWelcome. It's a project bringing supporters and both Lincoln City FC and Lincoln City Women FC reaching out to communities across the county.
Fans are looking ahead to the prospect of attending games back at LNER Sincil Bank with no Government restrictions next season. We're excited at the prospect of not only seeing the team in the flesh, cheering them on! And being with our football family and friends again.
We know football has a special way of bringing people together and arguably the feeling of thousands of Imps erupting in goal scoring joy Sincil Bank is one of the best feelings in the world. That shared exhilaration is addictive. The bond that tangible emotion can bring is quite incredible when you think about it.
The Lady Imps Supporters Association was born out of the discovery of the feelings football can bring. Being part of a club.
To be honest it was the loss to York City in the FA Trophy 2017 which stirred inexplicable sadness and disappointment. It was a surprise as football had previously been irrelevant. It triggered a realisation that football, with its highs and lows can mean so much. It was the desire to share the highs which drove the formation of the group; recognising and celebrating the women already attending, were still a minority. It was also about acknowledging many more had a perception the game had little to offer; that the portrayal of football in the 70’s and 80’s was still the landscape of the game in the late 20-teens.
I had discovered it certainly wasn’t and I wanted to shout about it, to anyone; but especially women like me. I wanted to say to people, 'Come and see! Its amazing! It’s not what you might have thought it was like at all'.
We know our club is welcoming and offers a fantastic match day experience - the trouble is there’s still lots of people ‘out there’ who don’t realise that.
It’s a troublesome tightrope to walk. Looking at the national picture we have to acknowledge that people from different racial, cultural or religious backgrounds have been, and are, verbally abused (or worse) during incidents at football.
People from the LGBTQ+ community have also faced abuse and discrimination. Disabled people also face barriers to attending games either because of abuse or a lack of understanding about how to meet their needs (often fairly straightforward adjustments). The game is changing and inclusion is gaining traction across the game - because why shouldn’t someone with a visual impairment, a hijab, or a gay couple attend our games.
I hear the argument that we don’t need projects like this because anyone can come to the games anyway - why do ‘they’ need a special project. A few reasons, I’ll be brief;
Personal experience - previous negative experiences around football put people off trying again.
Lack of experience - if you are from a minority group, perhaps having been subject to discrimination in other settings, what would give you the confidence to think you can stroll into an unfamiliar environment, with thousands of other people who know what they’re doing, seem to know each other and probably all look fairly similar when you may be obviously ‘different’. That’s a big ask in most people’s book. And while you might argue that going to a gig or a festival is the same thing, big crowds etc. let’s be right, football IS different, it is tribal and there are unwritten ‘codes of conduct’. If you have no reference points because you’ve never been before that’s daunting. It might be as basic as how to buy a ticket and where to sit. Things which seem obvious to regular fans can seem complicated to the uninitiated.
The media and Social Media. As an ex-journo I have sympathy and respect for lots of great people who work in the industry, particularly local press and broadcasters who tend to know their patch and its people. We know the TV and radio will do features with excitable fans prior to a BIG game, all positive and bubbly. Understandably the negatives, greed, corruption, abuse and yes sometimes violence, are also reported. It's me view that the negatives are often skewed with generalisations and outdated stereotypes about fans. In my experience violence directly related to football is rare, but you might not think that if you follow media coverage. Coverage of a lot of positive amazing work done to celebrate the game is sparse to say the least. Social Media again often reflects the worst some so called ‘fans’ bring to the game, seeing abusive or unwelcoming language will put potential fans off. The landscape is changing .. and there are many social media accounts promoting football for everyone. #FansForDiversity being one.
History - let’s face it anyone over the age of 40 remembers the news stories - in fact any coverage of football in the 70’s and 80’s. The imagery is memorable. And it’s not an environment you’d want to take your kids to. And while it might not be like that anymore - memories and perceptions linger and get passed down the generations. I think about the Bangladeshi community living on the doorstep of Valley Parade, Children hurried inside by anxious parents on match day while the ‘fans’ stomped down their streets shouting racist abuse and throwing bricks. Those children are now parents. Why would you think its changed - unless you see it for yourself. But what would make you want to take the risk?
It’s not enough to internally or verbally abhor racism, and other discrimination. We have to actively show we stand against it, to give others confidence that it's not a tick box exercise. We have to show that we want anyone and everyone in Lincolnshire to support our team, and we do that by reaching out, saying welcome and bringing new Imps on board.
I don’t know of any club which would say it doesn’t need more fans. The pandemic has tested everyone; the boards and staff of football clubs, ours included. To flourish we need to ensure everyone who wants to can feel part of the Imps family; attending regularly or sometimes, supporting from afar geographically, virtually, buying every season's new kit or a programme every now and again. Everyone starts somewhere..
So we ask Imps and the people of Lincolnshire for your support. Support the project, buy a ticket, make a donation, tell us about people who would love to come and experience a day at the Bank! You can find out how to nominate or get in touch about the project below.
What Lady Imps Supporters Association has done before?
We've seen the how everyone has enjoyed Lincoln City FC's success, it's galvanised the city. Yes some miss out. We are part of the #FansFor Diversity project (a joint campaign run by the FSA and Kick It Out).
Here's a poster we created in 2018 to encourage people to come and find out more about out=r club.
We have previously hosted people from the Eastern European community, linking with the Lincolnshire Polish Society. We've also hosted families from the Afghan Hazara community in Lincoln. Our fan exchange project also built friendships with the Bangla Bantams fan group at Bradford City AFC – furthering historic ties with the West Yorkshire club. It’s brought new people together, new people to the club and is part of enhancing the clubs values around inclusion.
Supporters at Lincoln City FC have come together to encourage those from different communities or groups to come and experience a match at LNER Stadium – especially if they’ve never been to a game before.
The Lady Imps Supporters Association (L.I.S.A) is working with Lincoln City Foundation and other supporters to raise money to purchase a group of season memberships to enable members of the community to attend a league fixture during the 2021/22 campaign.
A star prize of a pair of Season Membership tickets are available for the winners of the fundraising raffle, among other great prizes including;
More prizes will be announced in due course.
With all raised funds being used to purchase Imps Season Memberships, the Lincoln City FC board have kindly offered to match the final total allowing seats at LNER Stadium to be allocated to disadvantaged and underrepresented groups in our local community.
If the lucky winner has already renewed their Season Membership for the 2021/22 campaign, the Club will issue you with a full refund. The draw will take place week commencing 2nd August. Details tbc. Your digital raffle ticket will be entered into the prize draw. You will receive a confirmation email of your purchase, check your spam/junk folder. You will receive a further email confirming your raffle ticket numbers.
To nominate a group to receive these tickets for a league fixture during the upcoming season please email, email@example.com
Thanks for your fantastic support, and good luck Imps! #ImpsAsOne
As part of the Fans For Diversity campaign the Football Supporters Association is developing a series of features talking to football fans from different backgrounds about their experiences.
In this one our very own Lincoln City supporter Delores, speaks to Maria about her experiences and we also hear from Samsun who took part in the Bangla Bantams fan exchange with Lady Imps.
You can read more by following the link here
And the previous article in the same series here
Click on the logo to take you to the competition details
Gary Hutchinson from the Stacey West Blog and podcast has lent his support to encourage young Imps to get writing about their club while at home. Gary will be helping to judge the entries and will also publish some entries before the finals! He's very excited to see what you are going to come up with and to help you on your way, here he outlines some handy tips to help you prepare ….
By Maria Ryder
Supporters of Lincoln City FC hold many former players dear to their hearts, but especially Richard Butcher. Richard joined the club for the first of his three spells as an Imp in 2002 when another Lincoln hero, manager Keith Alexander signed him from Kettering. It was to be a partnership which is forged in Lincoln City history and recalled with deep affection. As a midfielder Richard was a key part of the Imps ‘oh so close’ promotion pushing side in the early 2000’s. He later returned on loan for a short time in 2005, before coming back again in 2009/10. He left for the last time to join Keith Alexander who was then managing Macclesfield Town.
Just over a month later Richard was the last person at the club to speak to Keith who died suddenly in March 2010. Keith was already cemented in the love of Imps, so although he was managing another side his death shook the Lincoln City FC family. When Richard, who was just 29 passed away suddenly ten months later in January 2011, cruel fate seemed unbearable. Acknowledging the distressing tragedy for both families first and foremost, for Imps fans these untimely and unexpected events has underlined a period of the clubs history and ensured these two men are treasured in our memories.
It’s one thing to remember with fondness the gift a player or manager has given a club, especially after they’ve died but what about the families left behind? We as fans know football can be all consuming, and for parents seeing a child through to achieving their dream means everyone is immersed in football - you give your time, energy and soul to the game. For Gail and Butch, Richard’s parents, the memories of Richard are of course meshed in the game and with the length of time Richard spent with the Imps, Lincoln is a special place. They visit the city and the club regularly and some L.I.S.A members were privileged to spend some time with them recently. Gail spoke to Maria Ryder about a young Richard Butcher. Part 1 below...
So what about the move to Lincoln and Keith Alexander. Part 2 below ....
Gail also spoke about losing Richard and bereavement.. Part 3 below....
Since Richard’s death, in trying to sort his affairs, Gail discovered that there are rules in place which would appear to be not only unfair but override the wishes of someone who’s died. In summary; if you have a private financial arrangement such as a pension, which is managed by a company, you can indicate what you would like to happen to that money in the event of your death - your ‘expression of wishes’. However, Gail says she has discovered that even if you are named as a beneficiary of someone’s wishes, the trustees of the money are not obliged to inform you and can also decide to override those wishes and allocate the money elsewhere. This is because the word ‘discretionary’ is used in the wording of the ‘expression of wishes’. The financial body is given the discretion to consider what you requested, but can disregard it. Gail is petitioning for this word ‘discretionary’ to be removed so that people’s ‘expression of wishes’ are followed.
Gail needs more support for her campaign and you can find out more by clicking the link below.
By L.I.S.A Committee
We are delighted to announce that on Friday 20th September, L.I.S.A was declared winner of the inaugural FSA Fans for Diversity award for League 2 (2018-2019 season). The award was presented at the Fans for Diversity awards ceremony held at the HQ of Amnesty International in London. Having won the award, L.I.S.A is now entered for the third successive year into the annual FSA Awards back in London in December. We are incredibly proud to be flying the flag for the Imps as we continue to promote and encourage a whole range of supporter diversity to our fan base and in helping with community and club ties.
The L.I.S.A loco continues at speed with over 140 paid members, women and men. We are now also active in promoting the women’s game, supporting the great people at Lincoln City Women FC, raising funds and hosting the first LCWFC fan engagement event. We look forwards to an exciting future, hoping to create new and fresh projects, working with a range of groups using the power of football to make a positive difference to club and community. Thank you for your continued support
By Gemma Bell
No … You’re probably not. In fact, your career of maybe 20 years has guaranteed its fair share of critics and abuse. You probably started out as a 16-year-old child who loved football but didn’t quite have the high standards to make it in the academy. What made you choose to ref? I don’t envy your job. In fact, just ask anyone in our local youth league… I won’t be chasing your job… I am diabolical. So, while I won’t agree with your decisions, I won’t berate you for them either. I will let your assessor give it to you and no doubt you will watch it back 20 times kicking yourself for your mistake. You are only human though remember!
Is Refereeing a dying trade left with poor quality? If so, what is it that’s killed it? Is it the pay? Is it not worth the average £300-£500 a game? Well that’s according to our trusty friend Google. Admittedly full-time premier league refs get a substantial amount more though a year’s wage will still never come close to, for example, Eden Hazards weekly wage. Is it the attraction of Sunday afternoons, at 18 years old, stopping Big Daz from the Dog and Bone ripping the head of Robbie the Ratchet from Shouldagone Pro FC? I doubt it very much. No referee goes out on a Sunday wanting to get abused, but it happens all too often. As a Grassroots Coach and Club Welfare Officer I pride myself on trying to support the brave Men, Women and youths who do a job I simply could not. Without them the game simply wouldn’t happen. They are equally as important to the game as the footballers.
There is no doubting that we need referee standards to improve. But that’s easy for us to say and not so easy to put into practice. Not when Tom and Tim from down your road are abusing the referee week in week out at the local u9s game. Let’s face it… nobody wants to put up with it. I take my hat off to anyone who pushes for promotion from their starting level 7. They have to be assessed and deemed competent to move up the ladder detailed below. Want to know more about the mammoth task of becoming a level 1 referee to stand in the centre at Sincil Bank? Head over to http://www.amateur-fa.com/referees/refereeing-support for more details.
Level Y - Youth Referee (qualified referees under 16 years old)
Level 7 - Junior County Referee
Level 6 –County Referee
Level 5 - Senior County Referee
Level 4 - Supply League Referee/Contributory League Assistant
Level 3 - Contributory League Referee/Panel League Assistant
Level 2 - Panel League Referee/Football League Assistant
Level 1 - Football League Referee
Select Group - FA Premier League Referee
· FIFA List - International Referee
By Martin Ryder
During October and November of 2018, L.I.S.A with funding from the FSF Fans for Diversity campaign teamed up with the Bangla Bantams of Bradford City. The idea conceived was based around a simple desire to send a positive message by football fans that our respective clubs should be a welcoming place for all. In recent years the diversity of supporters at Lincoln City has changed with more families and women attending matches. A wider fan base is still not something welcomed by a small vocal minority but it is welcomed by the vast majority and by the club itself. L.I.S.A was proactive last year in supporting the designated “Kick it Out” fixture and we will be doing the same in 2019.
In October a group of 17 L.I.S.A members were looked after with huge care and warmth by our friends the Bangla Bantams in Bradford. Despite obvious cultural differences a common interest of football and food resulted in close friendships being made by people who might never otherwise have come together. The return leg to Lincolnshire in November galvanised those friendships further and with the help and support of our football clubs, the FSF and Imp friends at the Royal Air Force an immensely powerful and positive message was created with a film of the project to follow soon.
In a negative media world football has certainly gained its detractors and yet it is something that can be incredibly positive for our community if enhanced and encouraged in the right way. By being proactive in welcoming people whoever they might be, our clubs benefit immensely - both financially and in connecting properly with the community. It is sad to say that small events of racism, sexism and homophobia still do exist in our stadiums but they are a tiny rogue element and as supporters it’s vital we play our part in educating and tackling them. While a few look to divide and categorise people for whatever reason our clubs and the huge majority in football won’t tolerate it.
L.I.S.A will look to be a positive force for all minority groups, whatever gender, race, religious belief or sexuality. We will look to offer help and support to fans of whatever background so please contact us with any concerns or ideas.
Email us at - firstname.lastname@example.org
By Martin Ryder
L.I.S.A are extremely humbled and proud to have been nominated for the FSF Fans for Diversity Award for 2018. This is the second year running that we have received a nomination and once again we look forward to attending the awards ceremony with five other fantastic groups from across the country. Our fellow nominees are AccessiBlues (Birmingham City), Apna Albion (West Brom), Proud Baggies (West Brom), Proud Lillywhites (Spurs) and Proud Valiants (Charlton).
As can be seen L.I.S.A are the only representatives in the category from League 2 as we join supporter groups representing clubs from London and the West Midlands. L.I.S.A has enjoyed a busy 2018 with diversity work, fan engagement, charity fundraising, academic liaison and in developing relationships with other supporter groups. We continue to work not only in encouraging diversity in support but also look to take the next step in brining fans from different backgrounds together. The FSF awards ceremony will be held at the Tower of London on Monday 3rd December.
We are presently half way through our fantastic FSF funded exchange project with the Bradford City Supporters Group the Bangla Bantams. Following a brilliant day in Bradford last month we are privileged to be hosting the Bangla Bantams here in Lincolnshire on Wednesday 14th November. We will be enjoying a lunch and stadium tour together at Sincil Bank as well as visiting Lincolnshire icons the Red Arrows and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The project is designed to bring supporters together from different backgrounds to promote diversity in support and community cohesion.
Particular thanks go to Dean Wagstaff of the RAF, Lincoln City Football Club, Humayun Islam of the Bangla Bantams and Anwar Uddin of the FSF for supporting the project and enabling it to happen. A short film is being produced of the project to highlight the great work of the FSF Fans for Diversity campaign in conjunction with Kick it Out. We will continue to work hard and celebrate the fact that the beautiful game really does have the power and ability to bring communities and people together.
By Martin Ryder
In modern times a standard interview question from an employer might be, what do you understand to mean by the word “diversity” and no we are not talking about the dance group! I do know of one occasion that an interviewee answered that question with – it’s when a farmer has hit hard times and they open a farm shop.
Football in the stands has traditionally been a male dominated affair for many years but with the changes in society, ever more diverse and inclusive, ever more multicultural, it’s probably not a bad business model for a club to want to engage with fans whoever they might be and wherever they are from. Diversity is simply about recognising that we are all different and that we might have our own different needs.
In the Fanzine of another club (to remain unnamed) I read the line, “we are all football supporters, gender is irrelevant”. Your initial thought might be it’s a fair point, we all wear red and white, pay our money and then go home. I wonder how that same man would feel however if his club shop only stocked women sized clothing or consider how a single female going to her first game alone might need some additional advice or support?
It’s not a one size fits all and while we all know that LCFC is a welcoming and safe place to be there are those new to football, those who might be from a different culture or with a need invisible to the rest of the crowd. Recently, L.I.S.A with support from the club and Imps in the Community invited the local Eastern European community to attend Sincil Bank. This wasn’t because they were any more deserving but because we wanted to ensure there were no barriers or concerns to hinder their attendance, we can apply the same question to people from any background.
We catered for 30 and 76 attended, 76 more potential Imps in what to our knowledge was the first event of its type. As families (despite living on the doorstep) excitedly took photographs within the stadium it was clear that a hugely positive event was unfolding. Five families were invited as guests to attend a game, those that missed out asked how they could buy tickets – a simple act of friendship and inclusivity was benefitting both our club and community, it has already resulted in additional ticket and merchandise sales and more will no doubt follow.
Our idea was importantly, a fan led initiative. This wasn’t some commercially motivated event, however commercially positive it might have been for the club, this was about a group of existing fans saying, hello, welcome, come and join us. Our group is one of a number trying to do our bit for the Imps, it’s just about looking for ways to make a positive difference rather than looking for negativity often disguised as “banter”. Who better to welcome new supporters than supporters themselves, something we repeated today at the Diversity Festival event we attended at Lincoln University.
Please don’t dismiss the importance of diversity it has the potential to fill a new stadium, bring people and communities together, break down barriers and enable the club to grow much more.
Diversity in support, diversity in the way we support, all the same and yet all different - no harm in that. UTMI