Sunday, November 11, 2007
Lincoln City 1 Nottingham Forest 1
I have waited for this weekend for so long, and I don’t mean the record breaking 17th new series of Heartbeat, which starts tonight ITV 1, 8pm. Although I will be watching it to see if PC Alf Ventriss gets off his fat arse for the first time in nearly two decades and feels a few Yorkshire scallywag collars.
Regular readers of these ramblings (god bless you) will know my team, for my sins, are Lincoln City. It’s 50 years since they have played Nottingham Forest in a competitive match.
You should have been in our room when the draw was made a few weeks ago: “Number 26, Lincoln City, will play number 32, Nottingham Forest.” I leapt off the settee did a whole lap of honour of the house and text the entire address book of my mobile.
It’s been a good morning; I went to watch “The Skipper’s” team. I used to coach them but people spoilt it. I’ve stayed away for a while but the time is right to support them again. We miss each other, and they have a new manager. They look to him and not for me anymore and I am fine with that. They destroyed one of the best teams in Notts today 4-1. They were magnificent.
White Van Man fails to make the team bus, I’m disappointed, and so are Puuka pies, they’ve had to cancel a shipment of pies.
We’re in a convoy down the A46. I’m with the Ribbon Maker, the Nuclear Scientist drives behind. It’s a trip down memory lane for Sticky Palms, I’m Lincoln born and bred.
I’ll be honest; it’s been a while since I’ve been. The trips are too painful since my father died. I prefer to follow the Imps on the road.
We hit Lincoln in 50 minutes and stop at a top chippy on Rookery Lane. It must be kicking off in town as police cars and bikes drive by with their sirens on, at full pelt.
We park at the bottom of Dixon Street, the birthplace of the greatest man on earth. My father Frank was born at No.67 on Aug 1st 1933. He later became a reporter on the Daily Express and Daily Mirror. He took early retirement to fulfil his dreams of being an author. He wrote eighteen detective thrillers. They would knock the spots off some of the crap on TV these days. (Apart from Heartbeat) He had razor-sharp wit and I miss him so much. Sometimes I feel alone.
We walk down Shakespeare Street over a bridge and turn left into Sincil Bank. There she is in all her glory, on top of steep hill, basking in the sunshine, that seventh wonder of the world. No, not the ground, but of course Lincoln Cathedral. Will the hidden imp be our lucky charm today? If you’re ever in the mire with the missus, take her to Lincoln for the day, it will put her in a good mood for weeks.
I’m in the Forest end; the kids insisted. Jesus, I hope we don’t score. The stewards are friendly, they’re all from Nottingham. A good idea that.
The memories come flooding back for me. Graham Taylor’s great side of the mid seventies, a young, raw Mick Harford leading the line and the win against Wycombe that restored us to the Football League. It’s not a pretty ground but it’s good for my soul. “Dad, didn’t we build this ground at home once with Lego?” Doh!
Paul Smith, the Forest keeper, is warming up, but the miserable sod won’t sign autographs for the boys. I console them: “Don’t worry lads he’d probably drop the pen anyway.”
Mark Shardlow from East Midlands Today comes up to the kids with a camera and microphone asking them what the score will be. They’re shouting 10-0. Flipping heck!
Some young girls perform a dance routine before the match and the Lincoln mascot, Poacher, is quick to seize on the opportunity of a quick kiss and cuddle. The pre-match music is dreadful. They play two Queen songs in a row. How will the general public of Lincoln react when punk and two tone finally arrive on the scene?
Lincoln sacked their manager John Schofield a few weeks ago, a scandalous decision. For the first time in years the team played football and produced a fine crop of young players. We’ve lost a first-class coach. Peter Jackson has taken over, he looks like Dr Who. We have an immaculate minute’s silence for Remembrance Day. Sadly all I can think of is Frank.
“Stand up if you hate D**by.” We all rise as one. In all honesty the game is dire. Lincoln exert pressure early on without really troubling Smith. Although the non-autograph signing fool fumbles an early cross and is fortunate the ball falls back into his hands.
Forest take the lead on 25 minutes, slightly against the run of play. with a slick passage of passing. Tyson finds Commons in acres of space on the left, his cross is pinpoint, and is met by ex imp Junior Agogo, Marriott makes a hash of it and McGugan smashes the ball into the roof of the net.
“The Skipper” and his pal torment me. Shortly after Agogo heads against the underside of the bar. It’s all Forest. The Imps are soon on level terms, a wicked cross from full back Paul Green is sliced into his own net by Kelvin Wilson.
Imagine the release your body gives you when your side score a goal, mine is trapped inside me. I grip the seat, pretend to act disappointed and give “The Skipper” a tickle. The half-time whistle comes too soon for Lincoln.
At the break this guy comes on the pitch and does all these tricks with the ball, he is amazing. The Lincoln fans are in awe, they’ve never seen a player take more than two touches before. And under John Beck and Keith Alexander a player would be chastised for that too. Wes Morgan strolls over to the boys and signs autographs. I’ve always rated him at this level.
Early in the second period, Paul Smith shanks a clearance with his left foot straight to a Lincoln player who finds our French import Dany N’Guessan. His shot looks goal bound but Smith redeems himself, tipping his shot round the post. N’Guessan is blessed with the pace of Thierry Henry but has the intelligence and touch of Inspector Clouseau. He rolls around the floor after every hard challenge. He’s as soft as French cheese.
Forest begin to find some rhythm. Agogo misses a one on one, dragging his shot hopelessly wide with a left foot swinger. Commons hits the bar with an outrageous shot from miles out. Tremendous news filters through by text on 69 minutes, D**by are losing 5-0 to West Ham. I’m a Nottingham boy at heart.
The game peters out into a tame draw. Yes Forest are the better side but are no great shakes. Lincoln’s patched up team have done well. Scott Kerr is outstanding in the centre of the park and Lee Frecklington will look forward to the space and surface of the City Ground for the replay. But it is 18 year old Daniel Hone who has caught my eye. He hasn’t given the disappointing Tyson a kick today.
Lincoln have a poor record of public address announcers: they don’t fail to disappoint again today: “All Notts Forest fans, please have a safe journey home." It’s NOTTINGHAM Forest!
We haven’t played Forest since 1957 and yet now we are to meet twice in the space of ten days. But give me Meadows v Radford anyday..
Lincoln City 1 Wilson (og) Nottingham Forest 1 McGugan
Man of the Match: Daniel Hone