Home > Football, Previous clubs > My time at …Lincoln City. Part 5 Out of contract. Should I stay or should I go ?

My time at …Lincoln City. Part 5 Out of contract. Should I stay or should I go ?

 

Another pre-season began for me for the 2007-08 season. I think that it was my 18th pre-season and I can tell you that they don’t get much easier as you get older.

Again, we lost some of our main players. Jeff Hughes, the biggest casualty, earned a move away from Sincil Bank. He had scored quite a few goals the previous season and contributed heavily to our season.

Lincoln City had been in five successive play-off campaigns and not managed to achieve promotion on each occasion. Although everybody wanted to go one better it was always an uphill task given that playing budgets were cut year on year.

The season began at home to Shrewsbury Town. We were on the end of a heavy defeat to start off the season and it set the tone for a disappointing campaign. The squad was older and weaker. Teams had found a way to play against us and we found ourselves towards the wrong end of the table. Because of this we never had much of a settled team. We changed personnel, formation and tactics but our form never matched that of the previous season.

We played MK Dons away which we lost 5-0. It turned out to be the last match under John Schofield. The team looked like conceding goals too often and we didn’t manage to be as much of a threat in attack. I thought his departure was a little bit premature at the time but nothing surprises you in football. I have a lot to thank John Schofield for. He rejuvenated me at a time when my career was coming to an end. I don’t think that the circumstances at Lincoln City when he left were all his fault but I honestly believe that he would be a success if he were to manage again. The abuse he took from some sections was disgraceful. I even heard one fan threaten to stab him as he walked past the dug out toward the end of one match. When you consider what he did for the club it does make you wonder what some people expect.

So Peter Jackson was installed and immediately gave the whole place a lift. I had a couple of niggling injuries at the time of his arrival and, again, wondered what the immediate future held for me. We turned into a gritty, hard working team who ground out results to steer us away from danger. It wasn’t all that pretty but confidence grew and we did enough to be safe. I had a lot of time for Peter. He managed to turn things around really well and had everybody playing for him.

Unfortunately his illness meant that he was away from the club for a lengthy period of time. It was obviously a tough time for him and thankfully he won his battle against cancer. He won Manager of the Month before he left for his cancer treatment which shows the form we were in up to his departure.

Iffy Onoura took over temporarily and it was just a matter of keeping things ticking over.  There were quite a number of us who were out of contract that season. I felt like I had to perform to get anywhere near an offer. At my age even that may not have been good enough. We were told that no decisions were to be made about any of us until he season had finished. I had to accept it even though it was frustrating. I honestly didn’t have a clue if I was to be offered one until I walked in to see Iffy at the end of the season. Normally you get a feel for certain situations and if I was honest then I didn’t feel that confident.

 I was one of the fortunate ones to be offered a contract. To be honest there were a few scenarios that could have occurred. I could have been released, offered a contract on significantly less money or offered a contract on the same terms. There was little chance of a pay rise seeing as though I was 33. So the outcome was as good as could be expected, a 1 year offer on the same terms. I was very happy with that although there were a couple of other stipulations relating to my off the field activities. I was running a soccer academy at the time and Lincoln City were concerned that there was a conflict of interest between my academy and the club, who have their own coaching set up. It was a shame but it forced my hand a little bit. The dilemma I faced was to play for Lincoln City under restrictions or move under no restrictions. I can see it from both sides but I was 33 and knew that there were not too many years in the tank remaining so I had to choose for the sake of my future.

 
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