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THE 5 WEEKS THAT DEFINED A SEASON


By Nathan Jackson
March 3 2005

2002/3 was a season that will live long in the memory of many Imps fans so I have decided to write my own personal account of the last 5 weeks of the season, right from when we played Bournemouth away to when we met them again in the Millenium Stadium

Please note, that anything you see on this website, unless stated otherwise is completely my own work and any other website you see with exact (or close) replicas of what is on here is taken from here.

Looking back on the 2002/3 season, I am left wondering which set of results best defined the Imps that season and it comes as no surprise that it is the final 5 weeks of the season which saw 2 games against Bournemouth and 2 against Scunthorpe, a trip to the Millennium Stadium and a former post-man finally delivered. This is the story from my personal experiences of Bournemouth to Bournemouth.

FRIDAY 25TH APRIL

Over the previous few weeks, the usual crew had been trying to organise a weekend down in Bournemouth for the game against the Cherries. All the arrangements were made through Ben Fox but it became highly unlikely we’d be able to go when it turned out that he had booked for 5 but only me and him were going up until the Thursday night when we had managed to get 3 other people to come along. We had arranged to meet at Unity Square just outside the town centre at 1. The 3 other "companions" were people I had never met properly before. Those people being Sam Langford, Matt Thomas and Andy Park. We were there for half an hour but no-one else had turned up for a coach that was supposably leaving at 2 o’clock. This guy just came along in a people carrier and said he had to take us to Sleaford where the rest of the people on the trip were going to meet us. A quick 25 minute drive down towards lower Lincolnshire (getting dangerously close to Boston) and we got out at Sleaford market to be greeted by rain. The driver quickly drove off leaving us to wonder it we had actually trusted the wrong person but after half an hour of waiting. The coach finally came along and we got underway.

We were sat quite close to the front of the coach and got to talk to the driver. We learned to our surprise/disgust that the driver was a Boston supporter. Despite of this, she was a really cool person and I can’t personally speak highly enough as her. After about 3 hours of travelling, we stopped at a service station about 20 miles north of London. Everyone went straight for food but then noticed a small arcade in the background which we then entered. This was to set Andy’s weekend to a tee as he spent almost the entire 45 minutes break on the slot machines pausing for 2 minutes to play a game of air hockey. I decided to have a laugh and go on the dance machine and did surprisingly well by managing to get past 5 levels before Ben put the difficulty on "MEGA," let’s just say that if after 2 seconds, if I had continued to bother with this then I probably would have fallen over with all the odd combinations of directions it was pointing out. With only 2 minutes remaining, I decided to go buy a newspaper but when I had gone back to the arcade, everyone was gone but a person who I never expected to see was in there. I saw Birmingham City manager, Steve Bruce having a go on the dance machine. I quickly retreated back the coach and we were on our way again.

We encountered heavy traffic on our way and were moving incredibly slowly and didn’t get to Bournemouth until just before 9pm. Ben had booked us at a different hotel to everyone else as it was considerably cheaper. We got dropped off next to a downhill road and were greeted off by the local prostitutes, they made some really stupid comment and we continued on our way as the coach drove off, quite literally into the sunset. After 10 minutes of walking, we finally reached our destination but didn’t stay in the rooms for long. In fact, all I did was put my bag on my bed and get all my hair gel and stuff out before going to the toilet. Whilst I was gone, someone (either Ben or Sam) mixed my shampoo with my brand new gel which I didn’t notice until later on in the weekend but we’ll get to that later.

We headed out and our first stop was a bank machine, I had thought to myself that £180 from my last wages would be more than enough to see me through the weekend so I withdrew about £50 before using my phone credit up and withdrawing another £10. Our next stop was Burger King. After spending about 20 minutes in there, we proceeded into the town centre, it was like something out of the beginning of a zombie film. It was quite literally EMPTY. As we proceeded carefully, we were expecting some drunken idiot to pop and we were soon to encountered such a person. Ben wanted to know where the beach was and the man pointed his hand in a random direction that headed through the local park. We carefully ventured through the park, when we came out the other side and then Sam said the classic line,

"The sea must be near, the air is making my nips hard!"

Indeed he was right about the sea being near, I don’t want to know if the other half was true to be perfectly honest. I could already tell at this point in the weekend that this was going to be a very unusual weekend when we were on the beach at 11pm. We just sat in a circle and talked for a while before all of a sudden, everyone (except myself) just started taking their clothes off and ran into the sea to skinny-dip. Everyone accused me of being boring but at least after a 5 minute spell in the sea, I wasn’t complaining of being cold and having very sandy feet. I saw things in those 5 minutes I never wish to see again, the main thing being the bellies of Ben and Sam.

With everyone complaining of being cold, we proceeded back to the hotel and I decided to go for a late night shower. Afterwards, despite it being 12pm, I decided to slightly gel my hair as it would mean less work to mould it back into style in the morning. However, I noticed that when I was applying it, it was practically freezing solid on the spot with a lot of white spots all in it, I could hear the rest of the them sniggering in the background and I noticed one of my 5 shampoo bottles I had brought but hadn’t used yet, had been opened and the harsh reality hit me, so there was me with no gel for the entire weekend and extremely sticky hair. I decided to leave it until the morning.

SATURDAY 26TH APRIL

I was the first to wake at 7:30 and noticed a slightly brown mark on my pillow, for some really strange reason, the shampoo and gel had adsorbed some of the colour of my hair and marked the pillow with it. My first act of duty was to go for another shower and then proceed to the local 24 hour shop to buy some gel but there’s no way I’m paying £9.99 for gel. When I got back, I was still the only one awake and considering it was almost time for the hotel breakfast, I woke everybody else up.

When arriving downstairs, the restaurant was empty but quickly filled up after a non league team called Haines (?????) came in. They noticed we were Lincoln supporters and shouted "YOU’RE GOING TO LOSE TODAY." Ben then shut them up by saying "AT LEAST YOU’VE HEARD OF US." That really pissed them off because none of us had personally heard of Haines.

After breakfast, it was back into town where we went into a massive arcade where we played a mini-tournament of pool. I won 5 games whereas the closest person to me was Andy with 2 wins. We were in the arcades for over an hour. Bournemouth player Steve Fletcher then entered the arcade, whilst all the others were still playing football, I went over and spoke to him and gave him my curse by saying good luck. My curse is of course, when I say good luck to somebody, it always goes against them. He thanked me and quickly retreated out of the door.

Everyone got bored and quickly retreated, heading back to the beach where there were around 50 Lincoln fans hanging around including a guy with the head of City’s mascot, Poacher. After some banter, me and Ben got our cameras out and asked some random person to take a picture of us all together. I love the irony that he was nice enough to take our picture and we were nice enough to keep him stood up long enough for someone else to take his sunbed, if you’re reading this now, sorry about that mate :P.

We then realised that we were getting incredibly close to the leaving time of the coach to the game. We headed to the hotel where the rest of the people who went on the coach with us. We arrived at the hotel but were waiting for the coach for around 30 minutes. After much hassle trying to get around Bournemouth, we finally arrived at the ground only to circumnavigate the car park twice. After finally getting off the bus, we headed straight for the away end. Once inside, I quickly thought that this was one of the better grounds I had been to. If it had the stand behind the goal instead of just a 3 sided ground but oh well.

The Lincoln players filtered out of the tunnel meet by an rigorous reception from the surprisingly large travelling contingent of Imps fans. We took 3 times as many fans to Bournemouth as we took to Oxford which is almost 70 miles closer to Lincoln. Bloody part-timers :P. Anyway, the ground filled quickly and almost to it’s 9,500 capacity. Bournemouth had the best home record out of any team in ANY division. Bournemouth had only lost 1 league game all season long and had beaten the Imps at Sincil Bank at the start of the season.

The game got underway with the Imps having the better of the play. The Bournemouth fans were incredibly loud but midway through the 2nd half, they were silenced. Dene Cropper got a free kick in a very dangerous position. It was crossed in but headed out to Ricky Butcher who control it, megged a Bournemouth player and his 25 yard shot sailed into the bottom right hand corner of the net. The funniest part of this was the Bournemouth refused to update their scoreboard until 1 minute before half time.

The 2nd half saw the Imps incredibly lucky to hold onto their 1-0 lead as a shot on 50 minutes from Elliott looked to be going in but somehow hit the post. That was the closest Bournemouth came to an equaliser and the Imps went on to become only the 2nd team all season to win at the Fitness First Stadium.

On the coach back, we were told that the players were going to the hotel where all the main people on the coach were staying. We went straight back to our hotel but quickly got sorted out and headed to the other hotel. At first, we were glued to the TV waiting for the updated league table and when it came up, sure delirium engulfed the room as we realised that only 1 point was needed from the following week’s game against Torquay to qualify for the playoffs.

The players arrived within half an hour and were met with a great round of applause from all the Imps fans and to no-ones shock, the players headed straight to the bar, the only shock was Scott Willis wasn’t pushing to get to the front of the queue. We had our cameras ready and had our photos taken with players and staff. I personally had mine taken with Scott Willis, Bimo, Keith Alexander and Yeo. We actually got into a really good conversation with Simon Yeo who at that point had not scored for Lincoln in the league since September. He blamed his sending off at Boston for his goal drought which seemed logical because as soon as he came back from that suspension, he seemed a different player. Then came one of the best moments of my life, I had my City shirt signed by al the players in the team, it was great. I know to opposition fans, that sounds a bit pathetic but you’d be the same if your heros signed your shirt.

The players left the hotel and we were quick to follow although it was a bit of a struggle trying to get Andy of the "Bandits." Infact, in the photo that we had taken, the only one out of the group that wasn’t present in the photo was Andy. Oh well, as they say, shit happens.

Then came the time of the weekend I was dreading, the time when Ben, Sam, Matt and Andy started getting drunk. After we left the hotel, they were slightly tipsy but after buying 32 bottles of out of date alcohol at the local (justification for buying out of date alcohol was it was only £3 for 32 bottles), they were even worse and I suddenly felt responsible for them as I was the only sober one.

We ran into a Bournemouth fan and his female companion, he told us that was the worse Bournemouth had played that season and even though they had lost, they had qualified for the playoffs along with Scunny and Bury. He also guaranteed that Bournemouth would play much better during the playoffs. Andy disappeared half way through the night and I got incredibly tired of walking between the town centre and the beach, we did it about 20 times in the space of 2 hours. I decided just to head back to the hotel where I found Andy watching the premiership highlights. Over the course of the weekend so far, me and Andy hadn’t exactly seen eye to eye as he was getting incredibly frustrated with me saying totally random stats all the time. We hardly spoke in the half an hour before everyone else arrived. Whilst everyone else was mucking about, I decided to pack my bag ready for leaving in the morning. After this, I got the programme from the game out of my bag and started reading it. All of a sudden, I felt a bump at the bottom of my bed and looked over the programme to see a horrific site. The incredibly drunk Sam and Ben were heading up my bed with their tongues sticking out. I got quite worried before kicking them off the bed. I was the last one asleep as I wouldn’t trust them if I fell asleep first.

Alex celebrating during the Dambusters just after we scored.

(I luckily managed to escape this picture where we're holding it upside down however, you can just see my arm going around Ben's arm. PHOTO (L-R) Ben, Andy, Sam and Matt and some random guy who just happened to get in the photo.

Matt, Andy and Ben chanting pre-match

Them again pulling silly faces

SUNDAY 27TH APRIL

Yet again, I was first awake and immediately went to a bank

machine to get some money for credit, to my horror, I had somehow managed to spend £140 in 36 hours and I couldn’t remember what half of it was on. I withdrew £20 and got some provisions for the way home including £10 credit for my phone.

When I got back to the hotel, everyone was up and we all went down for breakfast. We watched the Haines players slump in and gave them a sarcastic look to gloat. They didn’t even respond to us, how satisfying. It was time to leave, well almost, we still had an hour left. I had left my side of the room perfectly tidy with nothing on the floor, my bed made and everything, then after 2 seconds of Ben getting to it, I thought, fuck it, I can’t be arsed to tidy it again. As has become a trend over the weekend, I was left to lock the room whilst everyone else raced downstairs, this had happened every single time we had decided to go everywhere. I returned my key to the owner and thanked him.

Whilst everyone else played football on a local car park, I phoned up work after remembering I had a shift on that day. I claimed I was ill and couldn’t make my shift. After a long coach journey back, we arrived back in Lincoln after 8 hours and the weekend was over.



SATURDAY 3RD MAY

6 days since the weekend in Bournemouth ended, came the last game of the normal season. During the week, there had been a massive campaign from the club to get as many fans through the gates as possible and at work, it had seemed to work. Even my friend, Andy Tweddle, who supports Scunthorpe, wanted to come along and support the Imps getting into the playoffs.

The Imps had never made it into the playoffs but 2 of the previous 3 Imps last day promotions and relegation involved Torquay. The last one being in 1997/8 when City and Torquay were battling for the final automatic promotion spot. City were at home to Brighton and Torquay were away at Orient. City won 2-1 and Torquay lost meaning that City were promoted to Division 2.

I arrived at the ground earlier than usual after I had left everyone else in Martha’s (a pub in Lincoln) and waited outside the turnstiles. They let us in 20 minutes earlier than usual. I was so incredibly nervous about this game. Since I had been going, the closest City ever got to finishing near the top of the table was 18th in my first season.

The player of the year awards were handed out. Keith Alexander, the man who changed the Imps fortune, got an award from the council and the near 9,000 crowd, even the Torquay fans, gave Keith a standing ovation. It was the first time in the season the ground looked full, the only exception being the Torquay fan’s end which was only about 1/4 full.

Torquay started the game but City had the first chance when Futcher’s header went just wide. After half an hour of City dominance, a shock to the system. The 8,000 or so Imps fans were silenced when Paul Morgan headed over an on rushing Marriott to give Alex Russell a 1-0 lead to Torquay with a tap in from about 2 yards. City’s fans were even more disappointed to learn that Oxford had taken an early lead at York. Oxford needed to beat York and hope that City lost to Torquay for them to get in the playoffs.

In the 2nd half, a penalty to Torquay was given almost immediately but the player chipped the ball straight into Marriott’s hands. With the ground completely silent, I reached for my stereo and listened to the radio. Then came the immortal words from Chris Ashton.

"When City get that goal, then the carnival can begin but the Imps need to get behind the team now"

City fans still remained silent and an argument between a season ticket holder and a random part time supporter hit off. After this had calmed down, attention returned to the match. Yeo then missed a golden opportunity and for the first time that season, I snapped and started hurling abuse at Yeo, everyone around me turned around shocked to see the usually calm (at matches) person that I am, just totally snap.

With only a few minutes left, City fans heard about the party down at Oxford as they had scored again. Then up popped Simon Yeo, a long ball from Richard Butcher was half volleyed from 25 yards by Yeo who saw his shot sail into the goal to send Sincil Bank into raptures. I was celebrating so much and eventually, after 50 games, after seeing so much and to see it being taken away, only to have it given back in gold, started to cry. Everyone else was still celebrating and Matt turned around to celebrate with me but saw me with my hands over my eyes.

I couldn’t believe it, the finest moment that I had experienced watching City and that point and I react by crying. Of all things, to cry. With tears still going down my face, me and the rest of the gang headed to the edge of the pitch. The final whistle went and the pitch suddenly got filled with red and white. As I ran towards the players, I looked over at the Torquay fans who were applauding us all. I doubt they were clapping their players as they’d already disappeared into the tunnel. I just saw my favourite player, Ben Futcher and just jumped on him, hugging him and everything.

The players came back out 20 minutes after the final whistle as the Imps learnt they would be playing Scunthorpe in the playoff final. 7,500 Imps, the directors, the management and all the players just joined in of chorus’s of all the chants with the most dominant being.

"YEO! YEO! YEO!"

As fans started to leave the ground, the tears still pouring down my face, me and some of the Stacey Westers ran into Sky Sports pundit, Helen Chamberlain who was by far, Torquay’s most famous fan.

SUNDAY 4TH AND MONDAY 5TH MAY

I walked into walk at 7am with the biggest smile on my face that any body had ever seen. Yes, I know it sounds unusual to walk into a job at McDonald’s smiling. Infact, I was so incredibly happy, I ended up working a 12 hours shift when I was only supposed to do a 6 hour shift.

Me and Brummi had arranged to meet in the early hours of Monday morning so he could get his tickets for the playoff games. Our season tickets didn’t cover the playoff games but we did have priority. This would also be the only chance that Brummi got to come and get them as he still lived in Birmingham at the time.

We had arranged to meet at about 11pm so I stayed at home and watched Tv but got bored so caught the 9:15 bus and was prepared to wait the extra time. As I was walking through the lobby at the train station towards the platforms, an all too familiar accent greeted me. It turns out Brum had caught an earlier train but hadn’t bother to tell me.

It was around half 9 at the time so we still had another 11 and a half hours to kill before the ticket office opened. We ended up going on a massive walk around Lincoln and after it seemingly never ended, I looked at my watch and it was 11. Brum was hungry so we brought some chips and he used his scoop like motion to eat them which isn’t exactly a pretty site. We ended up watching "The Premiership" through a shop window.

After a few hours of aimless wondering, we headed to the ground. It was 2 am. Only another 7 hours to go. I believe the word easy was what me and Brum thought, that was before we realised how fucking cold it was. The 3 and a half hours before the next person showed up seemed like an eternity. We tried to get asleep but it was just too cold. I just watched the sky towards the east just get brighter. When the next person showed up, we were so relieved. At about 6:30am, the sun finally came up and me and Brum must have looked really stupid as we tried to get as much of the warm sun light as possible. People slowly started turning up, half of them didn’t realise that it was only season ticket holders who could buy tickets on that day. By 8 o clock, the queue stretched around the corner which was as much as we could see, say about 20 people but we knew more people were they. At half 8, a guy from the Lincolnshire Echo came and interviewed us for being the first people to get tickets for both the home and away legs. We eventually got the tickets.

SATURDAY 11TH MAY

I can’t remember much about the day of the first leg of the playoff semi-final. My earliest memory, other than getting to the ground early, was watching as the Scunny players arrived on their coach and were booed very loudly by the Imps fans but when they passed the Scunny fans, they applauded them louder than we had booed.

Now came the annoying part. My season ticket seat was not the seat I normally sat it, the club website had also said that all tickets had been sold, so I was fearing that would end up having to sit in that seat which isn’t exactly the best view in the world. I had never even sat in that seat but judging where it was, it was destined to be a crap view. I wasn’t moved however and even got the seat on the top row that was right behind my usual seats.

The game started. Scunthorpe’s marking was incredibly poor with Weaver not having a defender within 5 yards of it and not a defender on the line or anything. City fans were again cheering when 3 minutes later, after another free kick had been cleared out, Richard Butcher just lobbed it back into the crowded box and Paul Mayo ran through the
Scunthorpe defenders and volleyed the shot over the outstretched arms of the keeper for probably the best goal by a Lincoln defender, ever. Lincoln fans were in full cheer as the near 2000 travelling supporters lay stunned. City were totally dominating the game but on the 26th minute, Scunthorpe drew level when a Andy Dawson corner was flicked by Alex Calvo Garcia and the ball crossed the line but it was highly debated whether it was the full ball before Mark Bailey had cleared it. Even though City’’s lead had been halved, they still dominated which showed against when Peter Gain past the ball in the air to Paul Mayo who headed it to Dene Cropper who ran through the statues otherwise known as the Scunthorpe defence, he then passed it past the keeper to Paul Smith who simply tapped it in for a very well worked goal. A corner then got Scunthorpe back into the game on the 69th minute when it hit a bit of mud on the pitch and stopped directly in front of Calvo Garcia who just hit it as fast as he possibly could into the right hand side of the goal. At this point, I just stood up to the Scunny fans and just signalled with my fingers that they were still losing 3-2.


Scunthorpe then equalised less than a minute later when a goal mouth scramble resulted in Nathan Stanton taking a shot that went past Marriott and gave Scunthorpe an equaliser which to be quite honest, wasn’’t deserved in the slightest. I just looked gobsmacked and thought that it was the end of the playoffs already as it was the first time all season City had conceded 3 goals in a league game. To one minute, be in total command of the game to then have to go back to square one is one of the most frustrating feelings ever.

It remained the way until 5 minutes from time when Stuart Bimson just booted the ball as far forward as possible and Simon Yeo was the first to reach it as he volleyed it from the edge of the area to make it 4-3 and Yeo was at it again in added on time when Richard Butcher chipped the ball to him and a very good volley from 8 yards flew past the Scunthorpe keeper for the 5th City goal and the 8th goal of the game.

Another unexpected pitch invasion occurred with I joined in with but it wasn’t the same as the one a few weeks prior. I was called into work and Andy (the Scunny supporter) got a really big piss take out of me. I don’t think he has ever recovered.


TUESDAY 14TH MAY 2003

One of the most anxious days I have ever experienced as a City fan. Thankfully, the day at college had gone quickly but all I could think about was the game. A game that would determine that direction of the season. After putting so much effort into getting into the playoffs, 90 minutes would determine whether we would have the unwanted tag of "nearly men" or have the chance for promotion to Division 2. I was slightly more confidently due to the Imps having a 2 goal advantage from the first game.

Going into the tiny Glanford Park, I could see that it was already getting full. I got into the incredibly cramped away end and somehow managed to find my way to the top.

To be perfectly honest, the game was dominated by Scunny. I was quite surprised they didn’t score. The best chances of the opening stages went to Scunthorpe, the best was when an attempted clearance went straight to Paul Hayes who volleyed well but only to see it excellently saved my Marriott.

Despite all the pressure, City thought they had gone 1-0 up on the night when a cross from Paul Smith was headed backwards by Chris Cornelly to Richard Butcher who struck sweetly into the net but by then the offside flag had gone on Chris Cornelly. A Mark Bailey free kick then went narrowly wide of the post. Stuart Bimson almost scored an own goal with a misplaced header.





A scramble just outside the area then resulted in Peter Gain toe poking it forward where Simon Yeo ran for it. My heart pounding away as Yeo ran towards the goal, one on one with the keeper, with every step, my heart stepped up the volume ten times over. I daren’t look, I remember thinking, "THIS IS IT, OUR MOMENT". This was our moment, the moment of truth, the moment that it all changed forever. Yeo slotted past the keeper and I didn’t know whether to celebrate deliriously or just to stand there in a position of total relaxation. I felt free, unworried and as little stressed as I had ever been.

The final whistle went and the place just seemed to light up. Imagine a place where you are totally happy, where life is so simple, where nothing matters and the world is yours to command, that is where I was.

YEO! YEO! YEO! YEO!

THE WEEK AND A HALF THAT FOLLOWED

Ticket prices were announced and there they were, the loyal 3,000 of us and the 14,000 glory supporters. Most of the loyal 3,000 were offended by the glory supporters, where were they a year before when we facing relegation? But enough of bitterness because I was arranging to go to Cardiff with Kai from work. Kai lives less than a minute walk from Sincil Bank but never goes to games. I can slightly forgive him because he also works at McDonalds so can’t really get a lot of time off.

We were also trying to get other people to come along like O’Leary but he had to work. People who know me well will know that I worry quite a lot and Kai doesn’t reply to text’s a lot. I hadn’t heard from him for a week and it was only 3 days from the final. I phoned him and he confirmed that he had got 3 tickets for me, him and his girlfriend.

SATURDAY 24TH MAY 2003

After waking up after only 2 hours sleep. I wondered down to Kai’s
and got to his house just before 6am. I remember walking round the corner to his house. I was curious which car would be his but it struck me as soon as I walked towards it. It was a tiny car covered with Lincoln City stuff. Also, Kai had put 2 red ribbons across his white bonnet to symbolise St George’s cross (all to none English, ST G’s Cross is a white background with a vertical and horizontal red line) which I found quite funny considering we were going to Wales (who in the majority, hate the English).

Having left Lincoln at 6am, we arrived in Cardiff at 9:30 but ended up driving down the wrong road that Bournemouth supporters were going down. We were on our way to Cardiff University to stay with Kai’s friend. We got there and looking out of the window, I saw a lot of people just staring at Kai’s bonnet so I suggested he go removed it.

It got to 1o’clock and we still hadn’t gone anywhere near the ground so I was getting worried, I was really nervous and ended up losing a game of pool to someone who didn’t pot a single ball (I potted the black and the white ball at the same time after potting all my other balls).

After an hour driving around, we got into the ground 5 minutes before kick off. I remember looking through one of the entrances and seeing Bournemouth fans on the other side of the grounds. I was gobsmacked by the size of the ground although it looked smaller than on TV. We got to our seats and they weren’t the best in the ground to say the least. I almost constantly kept looking at the video screen.

All the action started as soon as the 6th minute when Paul Smith shot just wide of the goal but it was Bournemouth who struck first when a cross from Karl Fletcher was met by Steve Fletcher who stuck and unstoppable volley past Marriott. I clutched my head and feared the worst.

City were quickly level though when a Mark Bailey free kick was met by the head of Ben Futcher who was determined to end the season as the club’’s top scorer after this late run from Yeo had seen them tied on 10 goals each for the season going into the game. I was in nirvana, I couldn’t be happier, hugging total strangers. What an excellent moment to be a City supporter.

City surged forward and a 2nd goal seemed inevitable from City as they quickly hit the post and had 4 close efforts within the space of 3 minutes after the goal. However, Bournemouth went into the break with the advance when a Steven Purches shot curled and was headed low by Steve Fletcher wide of Marriott to make it 2-1. Marriott had no chance as he couldn’’t have predicted where the ball was going to go.

Half time arrived and I went for my programme but then I was left annoyed when I realised I had forgotten to buy one for only the second time that season. I looked right and Kai had disappeared but quickly came back with about £20 worth of food.

Lincoln came out in the second half and showed the usual determination but Bournemouth made it 3-1 when Steven Purches half volleyed past Marriott. At this point, I had given up all hope as I had never seen City come from 2 goals down to win.

Dene Cropper then had a great opportunity to close the gap to 3-2 when the keeper fell over and sliced a clearance straight to Cropper who could only shot over the open goal. Straight after came the 4th Bournemouth goal Steve Fletcher ran with the ball and struck low from the edge of the area past Marriott. I felt like crying as my whole season’s following just fell apart in the space of 10 minutes.

City searched for a lifeline with Dene Cropper again missing an open goal. Mark Bailey then scored his first goal for the Imps in the 75th minute when he headed in a Chris Cornelly cross. Even though City were still 2 goals down, this gave real hope to City. To be honest, I reckon everyone knew that City weren’t going to win

Then Paul Morgan was unfairly adjudged to have fouled Steve Fletcher. The free kick was swung into the box where Karl Fletcher headed past Marriott less than 2 minutes after Bailey’’s goal had given City’’s fans hopes. The City fans who know knew that they would be returning to grounds like Glanford Park and Plainmoor decided
to show their loyalty by continuing to outsing the Bournemouth fans like they had done all match long.

The players also knew it was over but still played with the determination that had got them into the final in the first place. Mayo then had a header hitting the bar and Simon Yeo hit the post before the final whistle blew and City’s Cinderella season had come to a heart breaking end

I was heartbroken. It felt like someone had just ripped my heart open, stuck 500,000 pins in it, cooked it and the put acid on it before putting it back. I was speechless for hours afterwards. I didn’t know what to say. People like Kai didn’t seem bothered, mainly because it was only their first game of the season.

I have heard people saying that finishing 2nd in the league or being relegated is the worst feeling in football you can have but they are both wrong because this is far worse. To be so incredibly close and then have to thrown in your face like a cream pie in the face of a clown at the circus.

The only words I really spoke at the weekend was to phone work on Sunday to tell them I wouldn’t be able to come into work on Sunday because I was with Kai in Cardiff. Funnily enough, they phoned Kai 5 minutes later asking if he could work the shift I had just phoned in about.

 

PLAYOFF FINALS PICTURES, TAKEN FROM VARIOUS SOURCES

As you can see, Bournemouth had quite a lot of fans

Not a bad following for relegation favourites is it

City on the attack

Cardiff

Bugger :P

Play-off final

Crowd builds as the game approaches kick off

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