A salute to Billy Knott

Some breaking news out of Sincil Bank is that midfielder Billy Knott has left Lincoln City.

Knott was out of contract this summer, and he confirmed on Twitter yesterday that he has departed the club.

He stated how it was not how he wanted his time to end at Sincil Bank, but “[he] cannot thank the fans, players and staff enough… I really appreciate everything.”

It is a real shame that Knotty has left in this way, it goes without saying that he was a personal favourite of mine. His desire and passion stood out, and there is no forgetting his abundance of ability on the football pitch.

A moment I will never forget is his goal last season against Bromley. Simply put, we were awful that day, and with constant pressure from Tranmere winning, we had to find a way. Up stepped Billy Knott, he came off the bench and with virtually his first touch, fired home superbly to secure all three points.

That was a poignant moment in our season, and Knott continued to significantly contribute right to the end of our National League success.

In the summer of 2017, the club announced the permanent signing of the midfielder from Gillingham.

It is fair to say, that not everything went his way to begin the season. Billy strikes me as an honest player, and he will agree that his performances were not matching his ability. But, he continued to work hard and he found a way into the starting eleven.

I will never forget his goal away at Rotherham in the Carabao Cup. You could see how much that goal meant to him, and his performance overall which captured the imagination of many Lincoln fans. He was the creative spark that we have wanted for a very long time, and things started to look very promising for the midfielder.

However, you all know what I am going to say now, and that is the red card against Notts County. A terrible decision, which impacted Knotty in more ways than one. In a recent interview with sports journalist Luke Lambert, Billy opened up about his battle with depression for the first time.

He says how after the sending off, “I didn’t play much after that as the team was doing well”. This is true, he struggled to get game time when he returned from his three game ban. The fact that the officiating decision itself was incorrect, made the situation all that bit more frustrating. You could visibly see his confidence was back, and he was starting to consistently string together some good performances.

Unfortunately, this would be the last time we really saw Billy Knott in action. It is only recently where we have discovered the challenges Billy has faced off the pitch, which explains his lack of playing time. But, personal health always takes precedence, always.

I think that still being able to enjoy football as a professional is something that gets overlooked. The constant pressure to perform is inevitably a large part of life as a footballer, but is so important not to forget how you are feeling inside. More and more players are coming out with their battle with mental health, with Accrington Stanley striker Billy Kee also coming forward earlier on in the season.

Anyway, back to Billy Knott, thank you for all your effort during your time at Sincil Bank. I would have you back in a red and white shirt in a heartbeat, and I hope wherever your next club is that you can first and foremost enjoy playing football, and that you also show the footballing community what you can do once again.

All the best Knotty.

 

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