After doubling our waistlines with a diet of pigs in blankets and beer over the festive period, it was once again time to drag Amy to some distinctly average and underwhelming football. High flying Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank was the destination and Forest Green the away side hoping to climb out of the relegation zone. We looked forward to another exciting game.
On the Road:
Given this was a pretty local match for us to go to, so we got the train from Newark Northgate for under a fiver each and were in Lincoln within half an hour. Lincoln station is on quite a few major lines so getting there isn’t too painful with maybe a change at Sheffield or Nottingham depending where you’re coming from. Since it only took 20 minutes for us to get there, we decided to make the most of our time in the city and soaked up the tourist attractions on the hill by the cathedral. This turned out to be a cracking decision as there are plenty of reasonably priced pubs and cafes as you make your way up. Instead of a cooked breakfast at one of the pubs, we went for a famous five-esque spot of afternoon tea and weren’t disappointed. Apparently controversially, according to Amy, I went for a bagel covered in baked beans… don’t knock it until you’ve tried it guys- it made up half of my diet at uni and is one of your five a day. The walk to the ground from the train station is only about fifteen minutes but there’s a noticeable contrast between the two sides of Lincoln, beginning at the train track. It’s what I would imagine leaving West Berlin to go to the East was like in 1989.
Sincil Bank is surrounded by terraced housing but is very easy to find. If walking from the station, you’ll turn onto the appropriately named Scorer Street before seeing the ground on your right next to the dike. I’ve always enjoyed my visits in the past to this ground and last week’s game was no different. Amy was pretty cheerful as well, belting out a flawless rendition of Sweet Caroline which was playing over the tannoy before the match. Her apparent excitement meant that I didn’t have to drop her off at the play zone next to the ground while I watched the game. To be fair, play zone looks like a right laugh and if Amy had been offered the chance to go I think they would’ve had to have dragged her out kicking and screaming at closing time. Tickets are very reasonably priced with Adults at £22, Concessions £15 and under 18s/full time students getting in for just £8. Another great deal which we were yet to come across on our away day adventures was family tickets; an adult and junior ticket was priced at £22, a concession and junior just £17. Got a lot of time for Lincoln’s giant red imp mascot too, who casually sat on the pitch side wall all game; only getting up to celebrate a goal or have a go at the linesman.
Even though we’d had some lunch earlier on, the opportunity to grab some half-time grub was too enticing to miss out on. Our more regular readers (as a side note, please stop sending me lingerie through the mail- I’m flattered but not interested) may remember a rant about the modern game’s criminal omission of bottled condiments around the country from a previous trip to Accrington Stanley. Major hats off to Lincoln City who, like Accrington, refused to bow to tyranny and offered an array of sauces to enhance your dish. Another welcome surprise was the serving of chips- a rarity at most football grounds. Golden and crispy on the outside with a nice fluffy finish in the middle, our bold decision to opt against the pie this week paid off. We were also in awe of the fact that they were served in newspaper so couldn’t pass off the opportunity to have a catch up on the Lincolnshire news whilst enjoying our grub. Amy, sadly, put mayonnaise on her chips. Absolutely barbaric. Everything was reasonably priced- the chips coming in at £2.50 and everything else available for under a fiver. Sadly, we couldn’t get any beer so, if on an away day to Sincil Bank, make a day of it and sample the pubs and bars the city has to offer.
It’s a long way from the Cotswolds to Lincoln, especially when your team is in the bottom two, so the 86 Forest Green fans who made the four-hour trip deserve a lot of credit. One bloke behind us had an irrational obsession with screaming ‘get it in the mixer’… every now and then it’s the right thing to do but asking for it during the pre-match warm ups might be a bit ambitious mate. The number of young supporters at the match with their families was also pleasing to see… that gives off the impression of a healthy club with, hopefully, a bright future on and off the pitch. Not too sure if any of the supporters were vegan though because they didn’t talk about being vegan at any point during the day. Then again, maybe ‘get it in the mixer’ guy was just shouting them all down… he must have a shrine of Tony Pulis or Sam Allardyce in his house along with the phrase ‘it’s a results business’ tattooed across his back.
Both teams started the game brightly before Lincoln’s centre forward Matt Rhead opened the scoring with a header from a brilliant Neal Eardley cross. Wayne Rooney’s resemblance to Shrek is the most notorious footballer-cartoon character likeness but Rhead is the spitting image of the troll in the first Harry Potter film that is set loose in the girls’ toilet. Really hope he doesn’t somehow read this- he’d snap me like a fortune cookie. Back to the game and, instead of letting the early goal get to them, Forest Green began to get into the game with a couple of half chances. A major reason for this may have come from Amy’s encouragement of “come on little vegan team” after Lincoln took the lead. Eventually, on 25 minutes, the improvements paid off as the in-form Christian Doidge turned well in the box following good work down the right and equalised with an accomplished finish. Game on.
Half time now and onto the pitch came former Lincoln striker Simon Yeo for an interview. Yeo was an absolute machine on Fifa 2005, especially on career mode. I remember having a fruitful spell with Lincoln City, taking them to an FA Cup final within a season. This was back in the days when you could only pick a team in League Two to start your managerial merry-go-round and had £0 in the bank. You kids don’t know you’re born with your Ultimate Team and dabbing celebrations.
Into the second half and Lincoln began to dominate with that man Rhead again being the difference, converting just before the hour mark after a poor clearance from goalkeeper Bradley Collins. Hats off to him, he got a lot of stick for his weight throughout the game but laughed it off by mocking himself in his celebration. He’s integral to Lincoln and any hopes they have of promotion. From there, the game began to even out again with Lincoln seeming content to hold on for a 2-1 win. As mentioned earlier, Forest Green failed to ‘get it in the mixer’ enough and didn’t threaten again until the final minutes. A smart save from Lincoln’s Josh Vickers denied Doidge a second before a stoppage time equaliser was disallowed for what looked like a foul in the box. In the end, the result was a fair reflection on the game, but Forest Green did themselves proud. A really entertaining game, best of luck to both sides for the rest of the season.
Man of the Match:
Harry Anderson The winger had tons of pace down the right and was instrumental in the winning goal, dragging his opposing full back, who was a decent player, all over the place. Special mentions to Forest Green’s goalkeeper Bradley Collins and Centre Back Emmanuel Monthe. The former had a solid game between the sticks, including brilliant save to his left, and was unlucky that his mistake led to the winner. Monthe was solid all game and kept a threatening Lincoln frontline relatively quiet.
Amy’s Man of the Match:
Forest Green Rovers. Not sure about the ruling on this one but this is Amy’s section, so she can put who she wants. She said they deserved this prestigious prize “for being cute vegans and playing so well even though they lost”. Explaining that the players aren’t necessarily vegan and to call them ‘cute vegans’ is patronising clearly fell on deaf ears.
Highlight of the Match:
During the half time announcements, one man got a special mention as he had recently got married. By recently, I mean in the morning- just in time for kick off at 3pm…
there’s being a football fan and then there’s that. His wife’s either got the patience of a saint, is also a season ticket holder, or he’s not going to be married for very long.
Amy’s Highlight of the Match:
Amy was giggling to herself for a couple of minutes when the teams came out. When I asked her why, she said it was because the hoops on Forest Green’s kit made them look like ‘green bumble bees’… your guess is as good as mine.
Hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year, and thanks for reading!
Sunday League Sterotypes
Sunday league football is a brilliant thing to get involved in and is played by thousands across the country. Based on that, 9/10 people who lace up their boots every weekend will rub shoulders with at least a few of these specimens…
They’ve played for years and don’t intend to stop anytime soon, even though they come off their line as slow as if they were wading through treacle. Their main assets are how vocal they are and the length of their goal kicks- without doubt two musts for any Sunday league goalkeeper. Likely spend an uncomfortable amount of time naked in the changing room after matches. Professional equivalent: Neville Southall / Brian Jensen… for the bit at the start, not for the changing room nudity!
Love kicking the ball as hard as they can up the line and shouting “box ‘em in” but get a nosebleed if they go over half-way. Never take more than one touch before smacking the ball in a random direction and shouting “where’s the support lads?!”. Would leave a trailing leg on themselves if they could. Score very rarely because they only deal in 40-yard worldies. Professional Equivalent: Danny Mills
Captain, Leader, Legend:
Once a fearsome proposition for an opposing centre forward but losing a yard of pace and gaining a few pounds has taken its toll. Can be found bossing around literally everyone, even the bloke just walking his dog in the park. Even though it was their man who scored from the corner, you need to remember that it wasn’t their fault. Will say “it’s still 0-0” and “they don’t want it lads” at least five times per half. Professional equivalent: Steven Taylor / John Terry
The Own Goal One:
Used to be that kid at school who just chased the ball and hacked at people’s ankles, but they enjoy being outdoors so always turn up. Some of the goals that they end up scoring deserve nominations for the Puskas award irrespective of what net they’ve ended up in. Strike fear into teammates if they have the ball anywhere near the box- “GET RID” is shouted as vigorously as a safe word when this happens. Professional equivalent: Richard Dunne / Frank Sinclair Left back: Either the best player in the team or wants to be a winger so badly but can’t cross a ball to save their life. If they’re the latter, they’re defensively suspect with an irrational fear of heading the ball. If they’re the former, they have right wingers on toast and a wicked left peg. There is very rarely a middle ground here- are you an Ashley Cole or a Cuco Martina?
CR7 wannabe that can be found online without fail every evening, playing Fortnight or Ultimate Team with a gamertag like “69FIFA$K1LLZ69”. Wear flashy boots, colourful ankle tape and spam fake shots and Ronaldo chops as if they’re playing as Ivory Coast on FIFA 12. Haven’t heard of passing on a football pitch until they aren’t given the ball, at which point they throw a tantrum and asked to be substituted. Professional equivalent: Adel Taarabt/Gabriel Obertan
Said he had trials for whichever the local professional football team is, most likely on the West Ham Under 13s football tour of Holland with Jay Cartwright from the Inbetweeners. They’re always sketchy when it comes to when they had trials and for how long though. The one conclusive response you’ll always get is the reason they didn’t make it: “I had a serious knee injury”. Takes it way too seriously- can be found doing shuttle runs in mid-July, has played for the team since under-7 level and plans to go into management when forced to stop turning up. Professional equivalent: Mark Noble
An eye bulging, leg snapping demagogue. Can play a bit, but they take genuine pleasure in picking out the opposition’s best player and making it their sole purpose to end their career. They justify it with “I got the ball ref” or, to teammates: “you never get booked for your first foul” or “they aren’t as quick with one leg”. Black boots and a tucked in shirt are an absolute must. Professional equivalent: Thomas Graversen/Lee Cattermole
Probably the sole left footed player in the team but only turns up for about 3 games a season and is away for one reason or another for the rest. Come up with really flaky excuses as well- how many family meals can one person be going to?! If they aren’t playing, it’s normally someone’s mate drafted in at the last minute who turns up in a pair of converse. Both kinds of players might have the odd decent game but are normally forgotten about as they play only twice a season. Professional equivalent: Gael Kakuta
Attacking midfielder/second striker:
Probably the most technically gifted player in the team but Fernando Torres had a turn of pace the last time they didn’t turn up to a game after a big one the night before. In charge of pre-match music, normally a d’n’b remix of a song that nobody has heard of in the first place. Also covered in questionable tattoos like “Kavos ’14”, the first of their summers working on the strip as everyone’s favourite questionable club promoter. Professional equivalent: Adrian Mutu
Centre Forward: Your classic number nine who absolutely loves a 50-50 and an elbow in equal measure. Normally suspended but is always an effective player to have when they’re available and could probably do a great job filling in at centre back. Normally a right laugh off the pitch as well and can down a pint quicker than a Tottenham collapse in April. Professional Equivalent: Diego Costa
This is obviously tongue-in-cheek so, if this somehow reaches one of the nominated professional equivalents, I was joking and please don’t sue me.
The ex-footballers you need to follow on twitter.
A lot of people argue that footballers shouldn’t be allowed Twitter, but a few are the gift that keeps on giving. Whether it’s Wayne Rooney threatening to knock himself out or just Joey Barton’s account in general, they regularly entertain, engage with and are hilariously exposed by their fans. Here are four former footballers who you may not be following but are definitely worth getting on your timeline.
King of the Dad Jokes Gazza’s return to Twitter has been an absolute god send for fans of jokes that you hate to laugh at. Whether it’s a doctor doctor or the kind of pun that makes you feel like you’re physically in pain, one of the most likeable characters in English football never fails to disappoint. It’s great to see Gazza in good spirits, regularly posting morning selfies with a pout to defy the ages. Some of the jokes are horrendous, but you’ll still find yourself using them to annoy your mates for the next few months. No wonder I’m alone.
Anti-Austerity Political Engagement Whether it’s President Trump’s gun laws stance or cryptic tweets about skeletons, the Everton legend doesn’t pull any punches. He even calls in the cavalry sometimes, with him and former team mate Peter Reid laying into Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP for picking up a humanitarian award for his work with the NHS. But don’t go thinking the former Everton goalkeeper only deals in anti-austerity tweets. Big Nev recently shared his thoughts on detective drama and daytime TV stalwart Midsomer Murders as well. The Everton legend is also an LGBT ambassador and takes an active role in tackling mental health. His longer tweets are sometimes set out in bullet point form as well, making readability much easier.
Motivational Speaker/Part Time Philosopher He might’ve scored a hat trick in all four professional divisions of English football but it’s Robbie Earnshaw’s twitter that deserves to go into the history books. Among his greatest tweets, his fascination with space, frustration with U2 and the fact he’s never really understood the purpose of a car alarm have all made the cut. In 100 years or so, Earnshaw’s name will likely be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of other visionaries such as Oscar Wilde, Che Guevara, Ernest Hemmingway and William Shakespeare. To be fair, the former Welsh striker is also a positive influence and always seemed like a nice bloke so credit where credit’s due.
Anyone Fancy a Beer? Known across the footballing community for his hilarious anecdotes during his career, the Romford Pelé is definitely worth a follow. Whether it’s his thoughts on the Arsenal game or an image of his pint (almost always a Cobra), Parlour tweets on a consistent basis and doesn’t fail to entertain. He also regularly posts his predictions for the weekend’s games- adding a bit more spice to your Saturday. He’s yet to post anything from a night out but here’s hoping… especially if they’re anything like some of the stories from his time as a player!
Sammi Nasri given six month ban for drip treatment.
Oh Samir, where did it all go wrong?
The former Manchester City and Arsenal man has been banned from all football for six months for using a controversial drip treatment.
Nasri has been plying his trade in Turkey since last summer, but had his contract with struggling Antalyaspor terminated by mutual consent at the end of January.
And things are now looking even worse for the 30-year-old after he was handed a lengthy ban by UEFA for receiving an intravenous dose of sterile water from a Los Angeles clinic in 2016.
The Frenchman was on loan at Sevilla at the time, and had complained of feeling ill and vomiting before being given the drip.
Attention was drawn to the treatment after Nasri tweeted a photo of him posing with the owner of the Drip Doctors’ clinic in his hotel room.
Anti-doping rules state that an athlete can receive a 50 milligram infusion every six hours, but the Premier League winner had 10 times that dosage.
It’s the latest setback in a frustrating career that has been littered with incident, including foul-mouthed tirades at journalists, premature international retirement, and a fairly bitter departure from Arsenal in which he accused the fans of having no passion.
During his time in England the man from Marseille picked up two Premier League and a League Cup with City, scoring 18 goals in 124 appearances. He also found the net 18 times in 86 games for the Gunners, as well as picking up 41 caps for his country.
Nasri retired from international duty at the age of 27 after being dropped from the 2014 World Cup squad.
As a youth player the mercurial midfielder drew comparisons to the likes of Robert Pires and Zinedine Zidane, but it’s probably safe to assume that this latest misdemeanour will all but ensure that Nasri goes down in footballing history as a case of what might have been, rather than what actually was.
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