With kind permission of the Lincolnshire Echo
I don’t suppose it’s common for a football fan to sit on the board of directors at his or her football club on two separate occasions. I’ve had that honour having been the Supporters Trust representative in the early 2000s and again now.
It’ll soon be a year since I started this second stint and it’s been intriguing to look at the differences in the club as it was then and how it is now. I can’t speak for other directors but I suspect the highlight of each board meeting for people round the boardroom table, or sadly on Zoom in these currently difficult days, is the manager’s report. We’re all there of course to keenly resolve the best way forward for the Imps financially, commercially, and all the others areas in which we govern, but we’re all football fans too and to hear the manager’s thoughts on what’s gone on and what’s ahead is usually pretty riveting stuff.
Fifteen years ago or so I got to hear reports from Phil Stant, Alan Buckley, and Keith Alexander. Keith held the manager’s position the longest in my time there. He’d enter the room, usually eating an apple, and because the team was more often than not doing well he’d be congratulated on the results leading up to the meeting. Keith wasn’t a one for saying any more than was really necessary in that format but his report would be well prepared and he’d answer our questions with much respect. I wouldn’t want to be stirring things or anything, and I suspect it goes on in boardrooms all over the country, but now and again a director would ask something that would make you cringe a bit. Keith however would seek out something valid in what he’d been asked and give a respectful reply. Everyone knows he was like that and always wanted people around him to be comfortable and the same applied when, probably though enthusiasm rather than anything, a question was asked that was just a bit daft. As we know Keith worked wonders on a shoestring budget with very few staff and it was fascinating to hear him each month and how he did it.
No less fascinating are the words we hear nowadays from Michael Appleton and Director of Football Jez George. These guys are so professional and the workload they undertake, not least in their knowledge of players all over the country and further afield, is hugely impressive.
Finding gems, like managers before have looked to do, is on their agenda too, because the money being spent by some of the other clubs is quite extraordinary. It’s clear to see from what the two guys say and how they say it, how they earn the respect of their players and why those players respond like they do. Even with the two opportunities I’ve had to hear Lincoln City managers boardroom words, I’ve not been exempt from blurting out a daft question. I wanted to congratulate Michael on the superb football the Imps played last season but for some reason ended it by asking if he preferred to be at home or away first in the play-off semi-finals. He of course politely said he wasn’t really bothered and had high hopes whichever way round the games came. Sorry Michael. That’s the thing though really – our Trust exists so that fans have a voice in the boardroom and I’m sure there’s lots of people out there who could get elected and contribute at director level. You’ve just got to watch out for the silly question that comes into your head when the manager walks in, that’s all!