This past weekend I went to Wembley to watch Lincoln City (my team) play Blackpool in the league one play-off final. It was a big match as the winners would be promoted to the championship, and obviously, for both teams, that would be a big deal. But for Lincoln, it’s more significant because four years ago, we were in the National League and Blackpool were in the premiership. So we’ve come a long way in the last four years.
Unfortunately, we lost 2-1, which was disappointing. But it was a good experience going to London to see the national stadium despite the result. I was lucky to be there as well because only 4000 fans from each team could attend. There was a random ballot at each club, and I managed to get tickets. A lot of fans were disappointed that they missed out. They thought we should have got more tickets because there is a lot of space at Wembley for social distancing. But the government has mandated that sporting events can only have a certain number of fans, so there wasn’t much we could do about it.
In terms of safety, I think that it was pretty well organised. I managed to keep a safe distance away from other people, and as there were only 8000 fans in a 90,000 capacity stadium, there was a lot of space. I had to wear my mask on the way into the stadium, but I took it off once I got to my seat. We were sat in direct sunlight, so it got hot. I envied the Blackpool fans as they were all sat in the shade at the opposite end.
From where I was sat the view wasn’t great. I was sat in the corner of the stadium, so I found it a bit difficult seeing what was happening down the other end of the pitch. I only realised we had scored when everyone else started cheering as I couldn’t actually see the ball go in the net. I would have been better if I was sat on the side of the pitch.
It was a shame we didn’t win and get promoted, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure we were ready for the championship anyway. Lincoln have a relatively small budget compared to the other teams in the league. We always have. So to be able to compete in the championship, we would need much more money to buy better players. Apparently, more investment in the club will be forthcoming, but we shall see.
Regardless of everything, we have had a good season. The expectation was not to get promoted but rather to have a top 10 finish, and with that, we have succeeded. If we didn’t have a dip in form partway through the season, we could have maybe got automatic promotion, but it wasn’t to be.
I shall be looking forward to next season now. I’ve already renewed my season ticket, and I look forward to seeing what players we sign in the summer. A lot of our best players this season were on season-long loans from other clubs, so I think we need to sign more players on permanent deals.
Another thing is that we have a very young squad. I think the average age is about 23, so getting to Wembley would have been an excellent learning experience for them. And don’t forget there were no fans allowed in the grounds all season, so they didn’t have support either. To be able to get to the play-off final under those circumstances is a pretty good achievement in my opinion, even though we didn’t win.
Next season I’m sure, will be fun, and I hope that fans will be allowed back into the stadiums at sporting events. If you are a football fan yourself, then let me know in the comments how your team did this season.