Football and life as a semi-professional


Not there yet: Semi-pro Cann taps away at work

There are two major football clubs in Lincoln. The Imps are the bigger of the two, playing in Coca-Cola League Two and holding the biggest fan base in the city as its only professional side. Lincoln United, on the other hand, play their football in the UniBond First Division South and attract around 150 supporters to Ashby Avenue — on a good day.

Yet it must be remembered that the two sides are divided extremely far apart in terms of tables and attendances, only meeting in pre-season friendlies. The divide only gets greater when looking at the players of semi-professional sides. The only amount of money semi-professionals receive is usually travel expenses, whereas professional teams will offer salary-based contracts to players, and in many deals now bonus payments.

Lincoln United’s players do not have such luxuries and rely on lifts from mates or the manager, John Wilkinson, to fixtures. Members of the squad train twice a week and then look after their own diet, however they see fit. There are no fitness advisors to ensure that players are in prime condition, which means players look after themselves.

Non-league football is littered with rough diamonds, players who when given a chance could possibly play at a higher level than their current club. Lincoln United are no different. In striker Sean Cann they have a fantastic talent. At the age of 24 he has played at non-league level for six years and last season scored 23 goals in 26 matches. The Lincoln-born player has previously been linked to Boston United and more recently Norwich City.

Cann is no different to his teammates and has a full-time job working at first aid suppliers Medikit Ltd, where his manager at Lincoln United coincidently is also his boss at work.

For some semi-professional footballers, balancing football and work can become difficult. However, Cann believes this is not the same for him.

“I find it quite easy. It doesn’t affect me too much unless we’re playing away mid-week, in which case I need to leave work a couple of hours early. But working with the manager [makes it] easy. “Training Tuesdays and
Thursdays, twice a week, again you finish work [and] go home. [You] don’t have time to eat, you’re just straight out to training and then get something when you get in.

“We play on Saturday and I sometimes play the odd Sunday for my mate’s pub team, but it doesn’t affect me that badly in terms of fatigue,” Cann said. Just last year, the hotshot striker was scouted by League One outfit Norwich City and this, as well as playing in the FA Cup fixture against Cambridge United earlier in the season, has gone a long way in spurring Cann on to pursuing his ultimate dream.

Cann said: “When we played Cambridge earlier this season in the FA Cup it was a big thing. It was almost like you’re performing with people watching.

“There were probably more [supporters] at that game than any other game that we’ve had in the entire season.

“You want to perform and make people look at you. It does give you that extra lift if you think ‘right I’m doing this and I want someone to be watching’ as I want to progress and play higher.”

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