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I'm that fed up I'm off to Coventry next week

19 March 2018

Irregular Diary writes: On Saturday 1,700 of us fans/fools made the short journey over to Lincoln for the 'Lincolnshire Derby'. I've written before about how it doesn't get the fires burning like Scunny or Hull would for me, but for the younger generation that have only known us as dross it gets them excited. Fair play to them because at the moment we need to cling on to anything that will do that. Someone on Twitter has worked out we have scored just 12 goals in open play all season, and only two this calendar year.

I didn't believe at any point that we would win on Saturday but the new gaffer, in the eyes of most, made it far harder with his team selection. I'm not going into a full-blown match report as it'll just make me even mardier then I am now. We started OK with both teams looking pretty average. We hit the bar then post, then went to pot. Three goals in eight minutes did us, and the defending for at least two of them was woeful. Time and again certain senior and experienced players are guilty of the very same errors – and when one of those errors is ball-watching in your own box, what do we do? No amount of backing the boys, making some noise and packing the park is going to remedy that one.

I'm that fed up of it I'm off to Coventry next week. I'm going to pay £22 for the privilege and hope that I'll come away not just with a new ground ticked off but having seen a game where the very basics are taken care of.

The police have decided this will be an all-ticket affair and that we may be kept back after the game. That's got a feeling of Manchester United v Liverpool the other week, where around 3,000 Scousers were kept back from a baying mob of 70,000 Mancs outside. Pause while we all note we've still got the highest attendance at Old Trafford, so ner ner, etc etc.

Being held back doesn't bother me, but in my 30 or so years of following Town home and away I've been to Coventry once: the 1-0 win at to Highfield Road that saw Gordon Strachan sacked in the morning. There is no history between the clubs, so what do the police know that we don't? We had a mess about when we played Coventry at home, when Humberside Police, with their A4 sheet of intelligence, got the ground capacity cut for the day. What on Earth was so severe within the 1,357 Cov fans who turned up?

That brings me back to last Saturday. Lincolnshire Police drafted four other forces in to help, with some displaying riot hats, making this pretty insignificant derby a category C+ game by my reckoning. Did the Port Vale stuff the other week cause that? I wouldn't have thought so, and bar a couple of incidents during our early Conference years I don't remember much trouble in the fixture. So why is a 10,000-attendance game here policed like a 73,000 game elsewhere?

As it was, all these police officers made sure that there were only three arrests all day, and I think at least one of them was for the daft pyro things. Absolutely nothing to do with fans being normal average people. I've seen the cringy video doing the rounds where the camera stopped and it 'all went off', but it didn't. The police came and gave them all pieces of paper.

These pieces of paper are known as dispersal orders. In a statement to the press, Lincolnshire Police assistant chief constable Shaun West referred to them as "anti-social behaviour notices". Asked why he referred to them as ASB notices in a statement to the press, his answer boiled down to us being football fans, simple people who need plain and simple English. So although part three of the ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014 doesn't actually mention ASB, it's easier to not be accurate for our purposes. If you're as fed up as me with the football, here is a link about dispersal powers; always worth knowing just in case.

I have been watching from a distance a Twitter conversation with Amanda Jacks. She works for the Football Supporters' Federation, helping those who genuinely need it (if you've smashed somebody in the face or set off a pyro, she won't). The conversation in question was about some Town fans in a completely average car, not a minibus that the police should know about under special football rules. They were stopped before they'd even got to the pub and two passengers were deemed as having the potential to cause 'bovva' and so were given the pieces of paper and sent back while the other occupants of the car went about their business.

Now we may quip about who got the better deal here, but I'd be worried about what the police had on my car for a start to pull it over in the first place, and then what they had on me as an individual to give something before I'd even got out of said car. It is all very coincidental, isn't it – or maybe it's top-class policing showing the great intelligence sharing relationship between Humberside and Lincolnshire police forces that was in full flow here?

All I know is I'm fed up of the whole world of football at the minute. It's entirely possible I'll be even more fed up come the final whistle at Coventry. But then you just never know...