I remember the day Chris was appointed manager of our club. I was off work with a bad back and got the news as soon as it broke. I immediately took to social media to vent my frustration at such an underwhelming appointment. I believe the post started along the lines of ‘welcome to the final days of our football club’.
I received an email from former Vice Chairman David Parman a short while later. I’ve known him for years and he knows my passion for the club. He assured me from the directors point of view they had the right man, someone with enough drive and determination to steer the club forward, and with enough contacts and respect in the game to assemble a decent squad. I’m a reasonable man who listens to people around me and therefore I changed tack and backed the manager. In the back of my mind I felt failure was assured, but as a fan of the club I acknowledged the current manager deserved a chance. I thought it might be prudent to look for Solihull Moors ground ready for the National League North trips we’d be making.
I felt almost vindicated the day we were hammered at Forest Green last season, when they could have scored seven and I think Nolan was sent off. Here was a manager clearly out of his depth. I kept my counsel though because it wasn’t his squad and he was barely five months into the job. I took over a builders merchant once and five months in we had the worst month for seven years, but after a year we’d broken records. Change takes time and I cut him a bit of slack.
Chris completed my journey over from the dark side sometime in June of last year, around the time I saw the headline Liam Hearn signs for Lincoln City. I know it didn’t turn out too well, but it was the sort of recruitment that had me sit up and take notice. Here is a manager who knows what is needed in this division. Here is a manager with enough sway to drag a former cod head into the red and white, and not just any cod head but their hero and one time talisman. I was informed by Town fans that the signing of Bradley Wood was much bigger and that has proven to be correct. Who ever it was that’s caught the eye this year there is no doubt that CM’s recruitment policy was sound. I was quietly optimistic.
By November quiet optimism had turned to all out belief. The early season draw with Cheltenham looks much better now than it did back then, but the stand out games for me were the home win over Macclesfield and the easy away win against Braintree. Neither team are mugs yet we fired eight goals past them in those two games with the new players shining through. I truly believe had Liam Hearn stayed fit and mentally focused on Lincoln City we’d now be top five. I truly believe that in the space of six short months Chris turned us from mid table obscurity to play off contenders. We lost our way, form dipped but all in all this hasn’t been a bad season. When Liam left we saw Craig Reid and Nathan Blisset fail to impress. Sure there were other problems, the defence we leaking goals. CM went out and surprised everyone with a real coup in getting Jamie McCombe back to the Bank and a two year deal. He was planning for the future.
So today I am incredibly sad to see him go. Normally things work differently with me. Normally I support a manager, he comes in and screws everything up and I end up disliking him. Simmo, Tilson and Jackson all fit that bill. I didn’t want Sutton to leave truth be told and I believe he was better than his legacy suggests. I didn’t want CM and right now I think his leaving is the worst thing that could happen to the club. It’s his squad of players we’ve retained for next season and they play for him. They still play for him too, they showed that against Tranmere. It hasn’t worked all the time, but when it did work we looked as good as any team in this league. I’m thinking 3-0 against Eastleigh. That was one of the most complete Imps performances I’ve seen in a long while. I just hope that his successor doesn’t feel the need to start again.
People got on Chris’ back but I’m not writing this to spite fans who weren’t behind him. I did see a stat recently that suggested he had a similar record to Gary Simpson and I’ve read comments that he wasn’t a ‘real’ football manager. Imagine that then, someone with no experience of managing at this level can match a former football league managers record within twelve months of taking over. Imagine what he might have done as he got more experience. He essentially matched ‘proper’ managers records having come straight out of a full time job just like you and I. Oh and before we forget, he did it for free.
However therein lies the issue, he never really came out of his full time job. People forget that he’s just like you and me. He’s a bloke with a family and bills to pay and I suppose he couldn’t come for free indefinitely. I’d imagine the criticism hurt him and his family even if it isn’t the reason for moving on. His wife is on banter and has spoken up a few times, can anyone remember Gary Simpson’s wife doing that? Can you remember Steve Tilson doing anything for free? These were so called ‘proper’ managers and they didn’t make the progression CM did with the club, nor did they progress personally either. This wasn’t one man managing a club, this was a family getting behind something local, something they believed in. It was the start of a fairy tale that sadly will now remain unwritten.
I won’t criticise Chris for walking away at the end of the season because he’s made a decision based on his work / life balance and we all do that at some point or another. I’m desperately disappointed because he converted me to a believer and very few City managers ever manage to do that. I could see through the usual ‘we don’t belong here we’re Lincoln City’ rubbish and admit the position we were in. I could see the progress being made on the field, slower than some of todays football fans like but progress nonetheless. I could probably see CM growing as a manager and growing tactically as well. Switching things up against Gateshead and Bromley showed willingness to experiment and react to situations, perhaps something we didn’t see as much early on in his reign. Most of all though do you know what? I identified with Chris Moyses. I got it, I got that he was just a fan of the club wanting to do his bit. Initially I thought it might be an ego thing, him wanting to utilise his success personally to fulfil some childhood dream of managing his local club. That was never the case though. He just wanted to put something into a club he has always been a fan of, which it appears his wife and kids are fans of as well. If I won the lottery tomorrow I’d plough cash into the club, I’d do whatever I could to move it forward. Chris didn’t win the lottery, he grafted for his cash and still ploughed it in. I identify with that and furthermore I respect that.
I sincerely hope his legacy is a positive one and that he is remember for everything good he did for Lincoln City. He brought good honest players to the club like Bradley Wood, Jamie McCombe and Jack Muldoon. He helped boost the persona of the club in the local community too. Ask any member of club staff about him once he’s gone and I’ll bet you their stories are about a man who cared for the club and always had time for people, a man who works incessantly to drive OUR club forward. Then ask them about Chris Sutton or Steve Tilson. I bet you don’t get the same response.
This isn’t about the doubters getting their way and it isn’t about his fans kicking off, to argue amongst ourselves is petty and disrespectful. Whatever you think of Chris as a manager you have to admit as a person he deserves respect and a pat on the back for what he did do for us. It is a shame he can’t finish the job, but lets not make his tenure here about the divisive nature of social media comments but about giving the right acknowledgement to a man who not only bleeds red and white but who was willing to put his money and time into the club to prove it.