Perhaps one news item that was lost amongst the madness of yesterday was the news the Stacey West stand was being opened to home fans for the first time since 2012.
You’d have to be naïve to imagine that I don’t have an affinity for the ‘home end’ at Sincil Bank, given the name of my blog. I watched my first ever game from the Clanford End, and since then whenever it has been open to home fans, I’ve been in it.
It is purely sentiment, nothing more. The Stacey West has always had poor acoustics, and the view from one end of the pitch isn’t nearly as good as it is in the Co-op stand. There’s little to truly attract fans back there at the moment, especially with the atmosphere created by the 617. So why would fans want to go back?
There will be many like me who were brought up in the Clanford End, many who feel that the home end of a stadium should throb with vitriol for opponents shooting towards them, and brim with borderline hatred for the poor opposition keeper who spends 45 minutes less than ten feet away. Many football observers feel a close, tight home end can swing a game at crucial times.
I stick by my previous statement that one of the reasons Torquay missed that crucial penalty in the final game of the 2003 season was because they were shooting towards the home fans. You can still see them baying for blood behind the goal, cat-calling and berating the taker as he stood attempting to end our play-off hopes.
Nobody should be trying to convince the 617 to move, they’re at home in Block 7 and they do a fantastic job from there. Likewise nobody should be trying to get all singing fans to stay in the Co-op if they feel they can make a difference in the Stacey West. A ‘singing’ section is a relatively new thing, back in my youth the whole ground sung, except of course the St Andrews side. They never sing.
The opening of the Stacey West (albeit on a match by match basis) should be a move that enhances the atmosphere we have already, not dilute it. If groups of fans want to move to the traditional home Kop and try to create additional atmosphere then they should be applauded. I’m sure coordinated songs from a whole corner of the ground would increase the pressure on opponents visiting a theatre of football already bubbling with passion.
I would imagine we’ll see it opened much more this season if we continue on our current track of success. A vocal support from the 617 can be added to by having that intimidating home end in play once again. I noticed Paul Farman tweeted about the stand reopening to home fans, I imagine that he in particular would like some vocal support from behind, as well as away to his right, when he’s in the sticks.
So despite the poorer views and despite the 617 staying put, I will be returning to the same spot (more or less) I first watched Lincoln play in 1986. I’ll be within fifteen feet of where I saw Phil Brown score our second as we won the GMVC. I imagine I won’t be far from the spot I first sat down in the Stacey West, April 1st 1992 in a 1-0 win over Carlisle in which a player called George Oghani missed a sitter right in front of us. I’ll be in the same area that I saw Simon Yeo rattle in a fifth against Scunthorpe in 2003 to send us to the Millennium Stadium. I’ll probably be in the same seat that I sat in the day I called Danny Hylton something unrepeatable for celebrating a penalty that signalled the end for our league status. As long as there is a Sincil Bank, there will be a spot in the Stacey West that I consider home.
I won’t actually be sat in it next Friday though, I have my fans player scheme ticket sorted already and it’s for the Co-op!