“I made my mind up and I said to Jamie Howell that night. “I’m only signing here because I know we’ll finish 1st or 2nd and we’ll go up. I didn’t start the season. But low and behold 36+ games later, Bognor are now in the Conference South!”
Bognor Regis Town goalkeeper Dan Lincoln admitted he was fully confident of gaining promotion with the club when he signed for them earlier in the season.
He did feel as though he had to consider his options carefully with distance being a potential issue but was offered a role in the squad by Jamie Howell on the same day he was taking part in his first training session with Bognor Regis.
“Well to be honest I expected us to go up. It’s a long and strange story how I got about playing for Bognor this year. I can’t go in to every detail. So anyway, I went down, had a training session with the lads, got offered the role on the spot, but I had a lot to consider. The distance and mileage being a massive factor, close to a 180 mile round trip in fact.”
Promotion topped off a perfect season for Lincoln, who was voted the Ryman Premier player of the year on social media (@love_non_league) , beating Billy Bricknell to the award. He was also voted Supporters Player of the season by the Bognor Regis Town fans so he is definitely made a good impression with the club’s fans.
Lincoln who is a former Reading youth goalkeeper has been on loan at a number of clubs in his quest for first team football. He has represented Met Police, Hungerford Town, Harrow Borough, Farnborough, Nuneaton, Hayes and Basingstoke Town in his career so far.
And the shot stopper felt that playing consistent first team football was crucial in the early stages of his career.
“It’s a massive part for any players career to go out on loan and experience other clubs habits, cultures and pressures. You realise quite quickly that your playing for people’s livelihoods and the players and clubs can’t afford for you to make mistakes or play a different brand or style of football to the rest of the team.
You need to fit in and adapt to the squad you’re in as quickly as you can!”
Lincoln described non league football in particular as a “dog eat dog world”.
“You realise how unprotected you are as players from the elements of conditions the officials and even the fans. It’s a dog eat dog world in 1st team football especially in non league.”
But the goalkeeper did admit he wasn’t always wanting to be in between the sticks whilst playing football at a young age and the amusing reason as to why he started to play as a keeper.
“I was always handy on pitch when I was 5 or 6 never played in goal. One day I got fed up of our goalie costing us games, so I pulled his gloves off him and went in goal myself! Now I think about it, I’m not sure I ever have the lad his gloves back!”
Surprisingly, Lincoln didn’t have an inspiration growing up and wanted to prove his teachers wrong who described football as not a real job.
“No one (inspired me) really, the two points for me were, I don’t want to do any other job than football, so this is what I’m going to do and that’s final! And as I got a bit older I got fed up very quickly of teachers saying you need a real job, a real idea as you can’t play football! So that was a real majority of my inspiration.”
Lincoln, 22, is also a keen cricketer and felt that his skills from the sport has given him some added skills whilst on the football pitch this season.
“I’ve never been able to compare many keepers to my style of play. I play more like a quarter back than a keeper! I do play with my feet well and move the ball, but I like to distribute a lot from my hands. I can almost cover every blade of grass on the pitch with my throws. I thank Cricket for that, playing that has added a different dimension to my game for sure.”
Dan was dissapointed to leave Berkshire based Reading but was left frustrated at a lack of opportunities after his time with the Royals due to injury.
“A little disappointed (to leave Reading) but I saw it really positively as a new challenge. Clubs were interested, I was looking forward to seeing what else the football world had to offer. Unfortunately I had an operation on my toe that should have healed after 4-5 weeks. It didn’t. 8-10 weeks down the line I was struggling to do back to back training sessions. So all these trials I had, never got off the ground simply because the clubs couldn’t see enough of me to make any decisions.”
But he was delighted to see youngster Liam Kelly (L_Kelly95) making such an impact in his breakthrough season at Reading and described him as “the most technically gifted player not just in the youth team at the club.”
“I’m over the moon for Liam because I’ve known him since we were about 10 years old. Both our dads talk a lot to each other still and constantly check up on us both. Liam was always the most technically gifted player not just in the youth team, I’d say in the club when he was still only 17. You’ve only got to scroll through YouTube and see some of his goals and now the fans and the footballing world are starting to see it on a regular basis.”
And when asked on the best moment in his footballing career, he admitted it would be closely torn between his success at Reading and promotion at Bognor last season.
“Winning the Under 21’s Premier League Cup was a great achievement. But I’d have to say being promoted with Bognor. To play 40 odd games and have one common objective injected into that dressing room! To get promoted! I’d say this seasons promotion, it also looks great on the CV!”
The late Eamonn Dolan who passed away just over a year ago was the manager of the Reading youth side that won the Under 21’s Premier League Cup and Lincoln couldn’t speak highly enough of his former manager.
“Eamonn was a father figure to ever academy player that came through. He was your biggest ally but he was always the first to tell you that you weren’t working hard enough too! And he had the balance spot on! The club and every player who has come through that academy, owe Eamonn an immense amount of love and respect.”
The goalkeeper admits he isn’t 100% sure where his future lies but he’s looking forward to having a summer off before hopefully playing a number of games next season.
“My aim is to play another 35+ games somewhere. Where or with who? I don’t know yet. I’m just looking forward to enjoying a bit of time off from football and playing a bit of cricket and doing some coaching.”
And Lincoln had 3 simple words for the Bognor fans after his successful season this year.
“UP THE ROCKS!!!!”
You can follow Dan’s progress here! (@Dan1lincoln)