Lincoln City boss Gary Simpson recalls the good times with Keith Alexander
It is a few days prior to the third anniversary of Keith Alexander's death and Gary Simpson is recalling the good times with his old pal, "the Big Man".
He is trying to deduce what his friend would be saying now he has the keys to the castle which has seen its ramparts battered in recent years.
"God Almighty, I'm not sure really what he would be saying to me right now," he jokes.
"He always used to look at me and ask me what I thought.
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"I would always reply, no matter where we were, 'we'll turn it around, don't worry'.
"We went to Northwich and they were in dire straits.
"They had played three games more than the club above them and they were four points behind too.
"I had a look at them while he went for the interview and the gaffer came back and said, 'so what do you think?'.
"We'll save them, I said. They play too much football, we'll soon sort that out.
"In the end, we did. We finished sixth or seventh from bottom and reached the third round of the FA Cup.
"Wherever we've been, we've done a good job. I just hope some of that rubs off here."
Lincoln fans will certainly hope so too. Languishing above the trapdoor to the Blue Square Bet North is forcing fans to reach for the anxiety pills.
Relegation could mean the difference between full and part-time football, an unthinkable prospect to the fans whose club is engrained in their DNA.
It certainly courses through Simpson's veins, although he accepts the club is completely different to the thriving conquering force it once was.
For the last four years the club has been fighting relegation which ended with them dropping out of the Football League two years ago.
Compare that with the four years from 2002 to 2006 when the city and Sincil Bank were used to Alexander and Simpson challenging for promotion and play-off finals.
"It's vastly different to the place the gaffer and I left behind," he says.
"We left it in fantastic shape and we departed with our heads held very high.
"For whatever reason it never kicked on. It is saddening for me and all the other players as to what's happened.
"For the likes of Simon Yeo, Paul Morgan, Ben Futcher and Alan Marriott, everybody is shocked at how far the club has slipped down the pyramid.
"When you look at it, the club has tremendous facilities. It has a great stadium for the division they are in.
"But it really does not surprise me in football as to how things can quickly change and go the wrong way."
The challenge which awaits Simpson here is certainly steep, but you suspect from listening to him that, given everything he has been through, he needed this.
He has spoken with great honesty about how he could not have forgiven himself had he not had the chance to launch a restoration bid.
Not least because of Alexander, and Richard Butcher, who will no doubt be peering on from behind St Peter's Gates willing him to succeed.
It has been an incredibly tough time for Simpson, who not only had to deal with their deaths, but also try to manage Macclesfield at the same time.
Whatever challenge awaits him here will never match the devastation he felt at losing two of his closest friends within the space of a year.
Simpson says he has learned a great deal from the journey he has been on and has prepared him well for the hard knocks of football management.
But he accepts he did not realise just how much the deaths of Alexander in 2010 and former Lincoln favourite Butcher a year later had taken out of him.
"When you are stuck in the middle of it, it is all a little bit surreal really," he says.
"All I know is that on both occasions, the lads who were left behind needed somebody to follow.
"I guess you could say I was the next one in line to follow and if I did not rise to it, then God knows what would have happened.
"On both occasions it took an incredible amount of geeing up to get the players in a frame of mind where they could go out on the pitch and perform.
"But the players and everybody at the football club were absolutely terrific.
"The people there helped me a great deal, the chairman and vice chairman at Macclesfield in particular were fantastic.
"They gave me full support on everything. I have a fantastic relationship with them and that will always be.
"But I've no doubt football was an escape route for me.
"It was something for me to focus on. Once you come out of the game and you contemplate what's happened, you realise how it has affected you.
"I didn't recognise just how much I needed a break at the end of the season.
"They say what doesn't kill you, cures you.
"I know I've been through a fair bit, but it will help me deal with whatever happens in the future.
"And after last year, and how it went at Macclesfield, I learned something again.
"I'm sure it will stand me in good stead for the challenge here, because the prospect of relegation from this division is criminal really.
"But as I would always tell the gaffer, 'As long as everybody is pulling on the same rope, we can turn it around, don't you worry about that'."